Suizenji Joju-en Park

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Suizenji Joju-en is a beautiful park in Kumamoto. When we visited at the end of October last year, it was still lush and green; the autumn colours still to descend.

Daimyo (feudal lord) Hosokawa Tadatoshi originally built a temple, Suizenji, on the site in 1632 but just four years later he replaced it with a tea house, designating the new surrounding gardens a tea retreat; he believed the natural spring-fed water (from nearby Mount Aso) made excellent tea. Tadatoshi named the garden Joju-en for a character in a poem by 4th century Chinese poet Tao Yuanming. Both titles form part of the full name of the park today.

The garden took subsequent generations of the family a further 80 years to develop and represents, in miniature form, the 53 post stations of Tokaido, the road that connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period. The largest of the many rounded tsukiyama (artificial hills) represents Mount Fuji.

It is typical of the Momoyama period of garden design – a central lake is bordered by artfully arranged boulders and pebbles and there are stepping stones within. Paths wind through the gardens, showcasing landscapes designed to be admired from a distance; they are connected by low stone bridges over the lake.

The Izumi (Inari) Shinto Shrine was built in 1878 as a memorial to the Hosokawa rulers and the garden became a public park in 1879. The impressively thatched tea room, Kokin-Denju-no-Ma, was originally in Kyoto’s Imperial Palace but was moved to the park in 1912.

With the sun shining, we took our time to walk around, pausing to admire the view along the route and resting on benches beneath the trees. I was particularly mesmerised by the park gardeners, mowing the tsukiyama in ever-ascending circles, around and around and around…

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Inside the park, there were also a few souvenir and produce shops, including one selling “Kumamoto Banpeiyu” fruit. As far as I can tell, it’s a Japanese cross between a yellow-fleshed pomelo and a red-fleshed grapefruit.

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Sweet Potato Dumplings

Sweet potatoes – both yellow and purple varieties – are very popular in Japan. In Kumamoto, the purple kind feature in a variety of local sweets.

One type, is imokoi; imo means potato and koi can mean either love or a dark colour, so it’s either “dark colour potato” or “potato love”, I’m not sure which! And I love that the local name is ikinari dango which means “all of a sudden sweet round dumpling”, so-called because it’s said to be a treat one can make very quickly for unexpected visitors. Inside a glutinous rice wrapper is a layer of sweet potato and another of sweet azuki (red bean) paste.

Another plainer dumpling contains a sweet potato filling within a glutinous rice wrapper.

This stall outside the entrance to Suizenji Joju-en Park was selling the simpler dumplings for just ¥ 85 (56 pence) each. There were also whole sweet potatoes available, but no ikinari dango on sale, though they were shown on a laminated picture list of products. When I asked if I could take some photographs, the owner nodded, pointing out the large poster portraits hanging behind her and her colleagues; I gather her shop had been featured in a documentary or magazine.

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Entrance to Suizenji Joju-en Park is ¥ 400.

Want to read more about Japan?

 

When Gloucestershire company Selsley sent me some of their syrups to try, I was keen to think of some different ways to use them.

I played it safe with the mulling syrup, using it to create warming winter drinks. It combines beautifully not only with red wine but with apple juice, cider and even beer. And because the flavours are already infused into the syrup you can either mix and serve cold or heat gently and quickly. The vanilla syrup is lovely in coffee. I want to try it in a fruit smoothie too and in a rich ice-cream based milkshake.

Although the ginger syrup with lemongrass works wonders in a whisky toddy, I wanted to use its delicious flavour in a dessert. As I’ve never made panna cotta before, this seemed a great opportunity to give it a go.

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This very simple ginger and lemongrass panna cotta came out beautifully, the syrup giving a distinct but not overpowering flavour to the panna cotta. I love a properly wibbly wobbly panna cotta in which the flavouring doesn’t overwhelm the subtle taste of the cream. The balance here was good!

Of course, you can use this recipe with other flavoured syrups, keeping the ratio of liquid to gelatine the same and varying the flavours.

I served some of these with candied baby tangerines (made in the same way as these confit clementines). I think fresh tart berries, such as blueberries or raspberries, would also work nicely.

 

Ginger & Lemongrass Panna Cotta

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
3 gelatine leaves
small dish of cold water
240 ml (1 cup) milk
240 ml (1 cup) double cream
30 ml (2 tablespoons) Selsley ginger syrup with lemongrass

Note: If you don’t have Selsley syrup, substitute with 30 ml of syrup from a jar of stem ginger and infuse panna cotta with a little fresh lemongrass or lemon zest while heating, straining as you pour the cooked cream into the dishes.

Method

  • Place gelatine leaves in cold water to rehydrate.
  • Gently heat milk, double cream and syrup in a pan, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer (with small bubbles appearing on the surface).
  • Lift gelatine leaves out of water and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
  • Remove pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin leaves until completely dissolved.
  • Pour mixture into ramekins, small bowls or small cups and leave to cool.
  • Once cool, refrigerate until set (about 1-2 hours).

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  • Either serve in the cups or turn out onto plates. Warm the cups in a shallow dish of hot water for a few moments to help them slip out more easily.

As you can see, a wrinkly skin formed on the panna cotta as it set. This wasn’t a problem when we served these turned out onto a plate, and the skin wasn’t unpleasant in the mouth. But if you want to serve your panna cotta in the cup, you may like a more attractive flat surface. Once you’ve poured the cream into the cups, carefully lay a piece of cling film over each one so that it’s touching the surface, and leave to set. This should stop a skin from forming.

Kavey Eats received sample products for review from Selsley Foods.

 

Sometimes I fall behind in writing about cookery books I’ve accepted for review. There is always a stack of books waiting for my attention, and I often feel vaguely guilty that I have already covered books that came in more recently than books that have been waiting a while. So I was delighted when a new friend agreed to take one from the pile and write a guest review about how she got on cooking from it. She chose French Food Safari by Maeve O’Meara and Guillaume Brahimi. Over to Tara Dean and her friend Dawn.

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I met Kavey through a friend when we needed somewhere to crash for the weekend whilst we went to Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park. I had heard much about Kavey, it was a delight to eventually meet both Kavey who eats and Pete who drinks. I live in Bristol and keep myself very busy. I work for an international sexual health company, run my own sports massage business and am studying for my Masters in Occupational Psychology which I will complete early next year. In my spare time I do Bikram yoga, go to the gym and spend time with my amazing friends.

Whilst at Kavey’s I raided her sweet and chocolate box, as a blogger she gets sent lots of samples and so I had a great time, we inevitably got to talking about food and blogging. Kavey had been sent a recipe book to review and was finding her time limited, I was excited and up for the challenge so she asked me to take the book, cook, eat and review. So here we are, I hope you enjoy reading about my experience.

I have a wonderful friend called Dawn who writes the dessert part of this review, we met a few years ago as we both started out our studies in Psychology. As a fellow northerner, she’s from the east I’m from the west, we both love good homely food that fills your belly and makes you feel nice and warm inside. I take my food seriously and don’t like to eat too much junk food. I am known in the office for my interesting concoctions, when I work late on a Thursday my manager stops by the kitchen specifically to inspect what I’m eating. I’ve often been asked at work if I’m vegetarian even when there is meat in the dish because I am eating something homemade which contains vegetables. People are taken aback when I start work at 8am and I have managed to cook a curry or soup for my lunch before arriving. Life’s too short to eat food that does not taste good. I pride myself in making quick, inexpensive and healthy meals. Now that’s not quite how things happen when you cook from a French cooking book. My point is I can relate to people taking food seriously.

I cooked the main and thankfully Dawn did the dessert. We both thought we had picked a fairly easy none complicated dessert for her. One of the phrases I remember from the evening was from her husband Marc when she asked him to help her with the puff pastry. His reply was ‘No. I’ve made puff pastry once’. He meant you only ever made fresh puff pastry once, learn your lesson, and then buy pre-made ready to roll forever more. Knowing that, there are far more fun and less stressful ways you can spend your Saturday afternoon.

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Lamb Navarin

I chose the Lamb Navarin recipe which in our terms is a French Lamb Stew. First stop was the butchers. The recipe calls for 1kg boned lamb shoulder and 1kg forequarter lamb racks, cut between every second rib. After showing my butcher the recipe book we decided it would be half the price, more meat and much easier to have 2 kg of lamb shoulder which he boned and then I could dice. This was very simple to cut and led to a much less messy eating experience and left me with more money to spend on red wine which fits into my northern values. The recipe says to use chicken stock for which it provides a recipe for – ain’t no one got time for that – or water – I compromised and used stock cubes which I do not think took any flavour away. I had never heard of Kipfler potatoes and neither had the assistant at my local greengrocers. I did a quick internet search and up popped a picture of a long nobbly potato. We ended up with Anya potatoes which hopefully did not take anything away.

I found the recipe well written and easy to follow other than wrestling with Dawn for page viewing. There is a point in the recipe which instructs you to strain the sauce through a fine sieve. I really did not see the point of this and as I was cooking in a piping hot, very heavy, cast iron casserole dish I declined to follow. The result was a beautiful navarin with succulent meat and flavoursome sauce. The celeriac puree containing almost a full pack of butter was the perfect accompaniment. As much as the guests enjoyed the navarin the puree enjoyed the most praise. One guest commented that if I made it again he would like to be on the guest list.

Along with preparation you are looking at a good 3 hours to make this meal. That is without an dessert or starter. The recipe claims this dish can serve 8 – 10 people. We had 7 people to feed, no one behaved like a piglet and overfilled their plate and we had very little in the way of leftovers. I think the writer has been overly optimistic. Unless in France they have extremely small portions to allow for the many courses you would normally expect at a dinner party, which of course is entirely possible, however as a northerner I would like my main course to feel like a main. We did serve cheese between the main and the dessert. Although I have always experienced cheese to be served after dessert the author of French Food Safari says any French person knows that the cheese is served before dessert. Not wanting to appear as amateurs we stuck to tradition.

The book itself is well presented and inviting. There are sections on cheeses, meat, and very fancy desserts which you need specialist equipment to attempt. The recipes do look very inviting and I’m looking forward to trying some more…….. maybe for the next dinner party!

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Tarte Tatin by Dawn

A super friend of mine called Tara invited me to do a joint review of the new ‘French Food Safari’ and with the chitchat of good friends it was quickly decided: there would be a dinner party and it would be held in my kitchen. I offered to make dessert since this is a dish I always feel I do in a hurry when I have a dinner party. The idea of oodles of time without distraction from other dishes to prepare, felt like finally, without neglect, I was in a position to consider this dessert’s every need!

The dessert? Tarte Tatin…The perfect antidote to the autumn air. This is a dish I have enjoyed without fail on numerous occasions during my time spent living in France as a student in the 90′s. My husband is part French and always holds a certain nostalgia for this dessert since his French grandmother would often make it.

On first sight, the recipe seemed fairly straightforward. I have, on several occasions baked a Tarte Tatin so thought it near impossible that I should find myself in troubled waters. Oh how I was wrong! The recipe required me to make puff pastry. Although I have experience of making shortcrust pastry I knew straightaway that to make puff pastry you need inherent qualities such as patience, determination and time. With a flick of my hair I decided I had time on my side and should not focus on the aforementioned qualities!

Some points regarding the recipe quantities: the pastry recipe required 500ml water, 250 ml of which needed to be ice-cold. After 250ml water I found my dough to be all pasty and did not even dare to add the next vat of water. I became a little disheartened at this and wondered how on earth I could possibly inject more water into it, considering all my quantities again-had I put too little flour in? All the quantities were right so with deep breath and without further ado I made a pledge to move on and get cracking with peeling the apples. With an eye on the time and my pastry in mind, I looked forward to what I thought had to be the more straightforward part of the recipe.

After peeling, de-seeding and coring the apples I made the caramel. On the previous occasions I’ve made Tarte Tatin I have added the sugar and butter to the fruit at the time of cooking so i was a little surprised that the caramel was made separately but appreciated trying out new methods! I know that you have to e very attentive to a caramel to stop it burning so I gave it my full attention despite the knowledge my pastry was going to be crying out for affection in the fridge before long. Unfortunately what I found is that there was not enough direction in the instructions. i was starting to feel concerned about the caramel bubbling away for 8 mins with apples and then being turned up to full heat until the apples became caramelised. I was also using a cast-iron pan which does, of course, retain a lot of heat in comparison to other materials.

The apples looked golden and caramelised and picture-perfect. Time to return to the pastry again…

I started to become aware of time: with guests arriving at 8pm I was not going to have this dessert done and dusted before their arrival even though I had started at around 5:15pm. I estimated that by 8:15pm the Tarte, pastry in tow, would be ready to put in the oven. One aspect which would have really helped in making this pastry… photos. There weren’t enough photos of the various contortions this pastry required during the rolls. A picture of all four corners folded in would have been welcomed with open arms.

Three hours and 15 minutes later saw the birth of my Tarte Tatin. It looked amazing.

The taste was disappointing. Everyone agreed it tasted a little burned. A slightly burned caramel sullied the whole dish and those melt in your mouth apples were suddenly left without a plan B. The pastry was ok but nothing special, not quite what I’d expect from having toiled and troubled over it for hours… I kicked myself for not buying ready-made pastry. At least I would have had an easier time coming to terms with a burnt caramel not to mention extra time to prepare for guests.

With more handholding I could have tackled this dessert. I cook and bake a great deal with 2 small children and a husband to feed but this recipe needed a chef (as well as more photos, directions and bags of time) and that, I hasten to add, I am definitely not.

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With thanks to Tara and Dean for their review, and to Hardie Grant for review copy of French Food Safari.

Oct 292013
 

I love autumn – the early half, when the leaves on the trees create a riot of my favourite colours and there is still a good chance of sunny days that are chilly but not freezing cold. And it’s apple season too. As I discovered recently, the apple isn’t a native fruit, but it’s become so much a part of our agricultural and gardening landscape that it’s hard not to think of it as a quintessentially British fruit.

Last year, we had such an outrageously enormous harvest from just two trees on our allotment that I spent several days preserving apples in chutneys, jellies and apple pie filling.

This year’s harvest wasn’t quite as overwhelming but I’ve still been enjoying a little more preserving, not to mention apple (and foraged blackberry) crumbles and more apple pies.

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When we’re making a pie fresh, rather than using canned apple pie filling, the recipe we use for the filling is a very simple one taken from Angela Nilsen’s Ultimate Apple Pie. Rather than using her pastry recipe, we usually buy ready-made shortcrust pastry from the supermarket. Pete preps the apples, rolls the pastry and lays the base and lid. I make the filling mix and do the pie decorations. A team effort though I have the easier tasks!

I like to use a mix of cooking and eating apples so that there are differences in the texture and flavour of the fruit, once cooked. This pie was made with four different types of apples; most were from our allotment and garden with an additional one from the shops.

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Last 2 images by Jason Ng, thanks Jason!

Classic Apple Pie Recipe

Ingredients
500 grams shortcrust pastry, chilled
1 kg mixed apples, peeled and cored weight
Optional: large bowl of cold water and squirt of lemon juice
150g caster sugar + extra for sprinkling
0.5 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 egg white, very loosely beaten

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170 C (fan).
  • Peel, core and slice the apples. You can keep the prepped apples fresh in a bowl of cold water with a squirt of lemon juice added but do drain them well and quickly pat them dry before continuing with recipe.
  • Toss the apples in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and flour. Mix with your hands to make sure the coating is evenly distributed.
  • Divide the pastry, setting aside two thirds for the base and one third for the lid. Roll out the base and lay into a reasonably deep pie dish.
  • Pile the apples inside, heaping them towards the centre.
  • Roll the pastry for the lid, brush a little water over the edges of the base and position the lid on top. Use a sharp knife to trim away excess pastry and then press down with fingers or a fork to ensure a good seal and make a pretty edge.
  • Roll out the leftover pastry and use a small round pastry cutter to cut out three circles. Use your finger to make a dent in each one, so they look more apple-like. Use the same pastry cutter to cut three simple leaf shapes. Roll or cut tiny fragments to use as stems. Use water to moisten and stick the pieces onto the pie lid.
  • Loosely beat the egg white and brush over the entire pie and then sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
  • Cut a  few slashes or crosses to allow steam to escape during cooking.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pastry is beautifully golden.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to sit and rest for 5-10 minutes, then sprinkle a little more caster sugar over the top.
  • Serve with custard, vanilla ice cream, clotted cream, double cream or a delicious clotted cream ice cream my friend found in Waitrose.

 

Apple pie is such a classic and yet there are many variations. What recipe or style of apple pie do you prefer and what do you like to serve it with?

 

I adore flat peaches.

As I’ve written before, they’re also known as doughnut peaches, saturn peaches and even UFO peaches, because of their flattened disc-like shape. Usually they’re superbly sweet and impossible to eat without dribbling copious sticky juice down chin and arms. In recent years, I’ve found them easier than ever to find; my local grocery shops usually sell them very cheaply throughout their season. I also buy flat nectarines, which are the same fruit but with smooth rather than furry skins.

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I’ve been wanting to make a Tarte Tatin for years. Traditionally made with apples, this French sweet is an upside down caramelised fruit tart made by making caramel in a heavy based pan, adding the fruit over the caramel, covering with pastry and then transferring to the oven to bake. It’s flipped back over to serve.

I finally decided to give the technique a go after buying a large bowl of giant flat nectarines that were so ripe I knew they wouldn’t last long. As is my usual won’t, I read a frankly ridiculous number of recipes on the web, decided on the general approach I liked best and then winged it to make my own version. Even traditionalists seem undecided between shortcrust and flaky pastry. I went for the latter.

The result was so good I made it again the weekend after, using smaller flat peaches the second time around. On the second occasion, I decided to see what happened if I made more caramel but found the result too liquidy – I think it essentially poached the peaches rather than baking them and didn’t allow the butter and sugar to thicken further during baking. So I’m giving you the recipe with the amounts I used the first time, which created a thicker, stickier caramel.

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Upside Down Caramelised Flat Peach Tart aka Flat Peach Tarte Tatin

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
3-6 ripe flat peaches or nectarines, depending on size
60 grams salted butter
100 grams sugar
1 roll ready made puff pastry
Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Wash the peaches, half them horizontally and carefully scoop or cut out the stone.

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  • If you’re adding the cinnamon, mix it thoroughly into the sugar.
  • In a large, heavy-based, oven-proof frying pan melt the butter, then sprinkle the sugar evenly across the pan.

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  • Once the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to brown a little, add the flat peaches, cut-side down.

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  • If your peaches are a little hard, you may want to cook them in the caramel for a few minutes; I bought mine soft and ripe, so they cooked only as long as it took me to get the pastry out of the fridge and cut it.
  • Cut a square from the puff pastry sheet and lay it over the peaches. Use a knife to cut the pastry corners away and tuck the edges down around the fruit.

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  • Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

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  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Shake the pan to see if the tart will come away from the base. If not, heat the pan for 10 seconds on the hob to melt the surface of the caramel and try again.
  • Place a large plate over the pan, grasp both together and flip over. My tarts (and all the fruit pieces) came away cleanly from the pan both times.

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  • Serve hot or cold with vanilla ice cream, custard or cream.

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I also want to tell you about a new business that got in touch with me recently to ask if I’d like to try their products. Cinnamon Hill import fresh cinnamon from Sri Lanka and Vietnam; true cinnamon from the former and cassia bark from the latter. They also sell a cinnamon grater with a specially designed metal grate and gorgeous oak handle; it comes with a pretty hand-made ceramic cup in which to store it. The grater worked very well indeed and the cinnamon was certainly intensely fragrant and had a lovely flavour. It does come at a price though, at £12 and £8 respectively for just 5 sticks of Sri Lankan or Vietnamese cinnamon and £50 for the grater (which includes £20 of cinnamon).

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Kavey Eats received product samples from Cinnamon Hill.

Jul 052013
 

When we headed up to Islay for a week’s holiday recently, I took along a jar of my home-made apple pie filling, canned a few months ago using apples from our allotment trees. The plan was to make a pie for dessert one evening. A fruitless supermarket search for ready-made short crust pastry (and a realistic acknowledgement that none of us were in the mood to make some from scratch) lead to the decision to switch to a crumble instead.

But earlier in the day, we’d made cookies (magnificent 3D safari cookies, as it happens) and had a generous portion of cookie dough leftover.

In a eureka moment I decided that cookie dough would be an even quicker option and set Pete to work on grating it. It’s best to grate the dough when it’s cold and hard out of the fridge. In fact, frozen would probably be even better, as the dough gets warm the longer you hold it, and consequently harder to grate.

Spread in a thick even layer over the pie filling and baked until the filling was piping hot and the topping golden brown, we discovered that the cookie dough made a wonderful, crunchy-chewy lid which worked very well indeed.

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The recipe we used for the cookie dough is given below, but I can’t provide exact quantities as I’m not sure exactly how much we used for the cookies… at least half, perhaps two thirds or even more? So you probably only need somewhere between a quarter to a half of the recipe below if you’re using it as pie topping, assuming a similarly sized pie dish.

Or why not make the full amount and make some cookies too? Rolled about half a centimetre thick they take about 10 minutes at 180 C (check after 8 and bake until golden brown) and last well in an airtight book. They make slightly chewy cookies which hold their shape well and are very tasty.

 

Sugar Cookie Dough for Cookie Dough Crumble

Ingredients
225 grams unsalted butter (at room temperature)
225 grams sugar
2 large eggs
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean, 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
600 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt

Method

  • Cream butter and sugar. If using to make shaped cookies, don’t over beat – too much air incorporated will cause the dough to spread more during baking.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and mix in.
  • Mix in dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Mix into smooth dough. Again, don’t over work.
  • Refrigerate for at least half an hour before using.

 

Have you had any wonderful eureka moments when adapting cooking plans to ingredients at hand and laziness levels? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

 

Stroopwafels are a delicious Dutch treat we particularly enjoyed during our last visit to Amsterdam. The direct translation into English is syrup waffle and indeed, stroopwafels consist of two thin waffles (or one thick one halved) sandwiched around a layer of sticky, treacly caramel syrup.

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When we got our waffle cone maker recently, as well as shaping some of the hot waffles into cones, I couldn’t resist sandwiching some together with a jar of dulce de leche we had in the store cupboard. For me, these were best after a few hours, once the waffles had become a little chewy and soft by drawing moisture from the caramel toffee filling.

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We used the basic thick sweet batter recipe that came with the machine (and is similar to many you’ll be able to find via a web search).

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After spreading a thick layer of dulche de leche onto a hot waffle, we placed another hot waffle on top (a few minutes later) and Pete used a clean tea towel to quickly press down and sandwich the two together; the heat of the waffle helped bind it to the filling and hold the two firmly together.

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These weren’t the same as the ready-made stroopwafels you can buy but they were simple to make and tasty!

 

I love Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.

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I can’t remember a time when I’ve not loved them, having come across them in the USA during childhood trips. I didn’t know their history until now, though. The company that makes them was born back in 1869, when two German brothers emigrated to America and set up an ice cream and candy store in Belleville, Illinois. They weren’t responsible for the invention of jelly beans, thought to be inspired by Turkish delight, but they started making them in the late 1800s are certainly strongly associated with them today. In the 1970s, they introduced a range made with only natural flavourings, and the first eight Jelly Belly flavours were born.

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These days, there are many more flavours than 8!

Recently, I was sent a box of their Original 50 – flavours which are made and sold all year round. In addition to these, they also make a sugar-free range, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (based on flavours from the Harry Potter books), the Sours range and branded ones such as Snapples and Cadbury Schweppes flavours. There are also a number of “rookie” flavours that are being trialled, some of which may make it into the long term top 50 list, if they prove popular enough. I wish I could try honey bean, mojito and mint chocolate chip, from the current list of rookies!

The reason I love these beans is how vivid and accurate the flavours are. They all taste of what they should, rather than the cheap and synthetic flavourings used in many sweets.

Looking for a way of showcasing the range of flavours, I decided to make a Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Ice Cream.

The thick, creamy texture and slightly caramel flavour of a condensed milk and double cream no churn base seemed like it would be a good fit.

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Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Ice Cream (No Churn, No machine)

Ingredients
300 ml double cream
125 ml condensed milk
100 assorted Jelly Belly jelly beans

Note: I used two each of every flavour in the box except for cinnamon and liquorice, which I don’t like.

Method

  • Whisk the cream until it is thick but still a little floppy.

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  • Add the condensed milk and whisk again until it holds its shape.

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  • Fold in the jelly beans.

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  • Spoon into a freezer container or a loaf tin lined with clingfilm and freeze overnight.
  • Turn the ice cream out of the container or tin (peel off the clingfilm) and slice to serve.

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Once frozen, the shells of the jelly beans harden, so it’s like biting down on hard toffee, with a wonderfully chewy interior. We really liked the contrast between the soft creamy ice cream and the harder beans.

(Because the beans become harder, this recipe may not be suitable for very young children or those who can’t chew hard toffee-like textures).

 

This is my entry into the February & March Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream event, for which the theme is a look back across all the themes for the preceding year.

IceCreamChallenge

If you enjoy making ice cream or if you’ve not made it before and fancy having a go, do see if there’s a theme to suit.

You can opt for a custard base, recreate a childhood favourite, make a sorbet, granita, slushy or spoom, do something delicious with chocolate, make ice lollies, use fruit, incorporate spices, be a bit different and try a savoury ice cream, raid the booze cupboard, be inspired by Japan or add in some dried fruit and nuts. Or, like I’ve done, make a condensed milk recipe.

All bloggers are very welcome, experienced cooks and newbies alike.

 

Kavey Eats received a review sample of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.

 

When you think of foods that benefit from deep frying, what springs to mind?

For me, the list was long…

Fried chicken, battered fish, proper chips, pakoras, tempura, tortilla chips, sesame prawn toasts, whitebait, crisps – not just potato but courgette, parsnip and beetroot, fried tofu, onion rings, samosas, calamari, gulab jamon, even deep fried mars bars…

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But before all those came doughnuts! So when we were sent a Judge Cookware Multi Basket deep fat fryer to review (coming soon), the very first thing we made just had to be doughnuts.

Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

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With a pile of cookery books also awaiting review, we flicked through Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever and chose her Glazed Vanilla Bean Doughnuts recipe to try.

Published by Quirk Books, a young American publishing company based in Philadelphia, Pure Vanilla has been written primarily for the US market, which means you’ll need to make a little effort to translate aspects of the recipes. Fahrenheit cooking temperatures and cup measurements are easy as conversion charts are handily provided inside the back cover. You’ll also need to parse ingredients such as all-purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and sticks of butter, but in the era of Google, that’s not too onerous.

Often, single ingredient cookery books can be a little too gimmicky, adding the chosen ingredient to recipes in which it doesn’t really belong or contribute much just to shoe-horn them into the book. But I really like the kind of recipes Sever has included in her collection – I’m drawn to Light, Crisp Vanilla Waffles, Vanilla Cloud Cake, Tres Leches Cake, Vanilla Snaps, Vanilla Biscotti, Vanilla Bean Marshmallows and Vanilla Mojito, amongst others.

There are some weaknesses with the book too:  the index is truly appalling – it lists over a third of the recipes under “vanilla”, which is surely a given in every single recipe in the book and should have been excluded!

Not all recipes have accompanying photographs, which is a shame as those which do instantly appeal more strongly.

The recipe we made was straightforward to follow and came out beautifully. The colour of our finished doughnuts appeared a touch dark, and we worried we’d overcooked them but they were perfect in both taste and texture, with a light and fluffy interior and a perfectly judged vanilla flavour – it came through clearly, made a definite contribution but didn’t overwhelm.

As we made half the amounts given, I’m sharing the amounts we used rather than those in the original recipe.

 

Glazed Vanilla Bean Doughnuts

Makes 6 doughnuts

Ingredients
For the doughnuts:
1.5 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 tablespoons (30 ml) warm water
3 heaped teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
120 ml whole fat milk, at room temperature
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (not essence)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 egg yolks
30 grams unsalted butter
225 grams plain flour, plus a little extra for kneading
0.5 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the glaze:
100 grams icing sugar
1 tablespoon whole fat milk
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Note: Vanilla bean paste is a thick paste full of actual vanilla seeds and is a great alternative to scraping a real vanilla pod. I used Nielsen-Massey’s paste, which I think is excellent. If you can’t find this product, either use the seeds from a quarter of a vanilla pod or an extra teaspoon of extract instead.

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Method

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, warm water and one teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Leave to stand until it foams, about 5 minutes.
  • Using the paddle attachment on the mixer, at low speed, mix in the remaining granulated sugar, milk, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, egg yolks and butter.
  • Add the flour and salt and mix for a further 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand, briefly, dusting with flour if you need to.

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  • Place in a large bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. Ours took a couple of hours; you can also leave in the fridge to rise more slowly overnight).

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  • Turn the dough out onto baking parchment and divide into 6 equal portions.

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  • Roll into balls, flatten and cut a whole out from the centre of each one. We used an icing nozzle, as we didn’t have a suitably small cookie cutter. We also combined the dough from the four holes into two small round doughnuts.

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  • Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Make the glaze by whisking together the icing sugar, milk, salt and vanilla bean paste.

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  • Heat oil to about 180 C and fry doughnuts, in batches, until golden brown – about 2-3 minutes per side. Sever warns against turning too often, as this can result in greasy doughnuts.

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  • Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Spoon the glaze over the doughnuts whilst they are still warm, so it melts and trickles down the sides.

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With thanks to Quirk Books for the review copy of Pure Vanilla and to Judge Cookware for the multi basket deep fat fryer.

 

I posted recently about different methods of preserving food, with a particular focus on home canning.

My first experiment last year was salmon, new potatoes and shallots in olive oil but as I was only able to heat treat at 100°C, I’m not confident about having eradicated the risks of botulism, so will likely discard the results, even though they look great in the jars. I am hoping to buy a pressure canner soon, and will return to preserving fish and meat then.

In the mean time, 100°C is considered sufficient when canning products which contain a certain level of acid, such as apples. As I mentioned in my recent post about apple, date and ginger chutney, we have a lot of apples to use up!

There are 10 jars of chutney and 12 jars of apple jelly in the preserves cupboard. The freezer is already full. I decided to try canning apple pie filling. The advantage over freezing (quite aside from lack of available freezer space) is that it’s much quicker to make an apple pie. Buy or rustle up a portion of pastry, line the pie dish, pour in a jar of filling, lay on the pastry lid and bake!

I based my canning on several American recipes, many of which are very similar. They all call for canning into 1 quart (1 litre) jars but I opted for 750 litre jars for two reasons. Firstly, as there are only two of us, we don’t want to make really large pies. Secondly, these jars fit into the cauldron I’m currently using for the heat treatment whereas the 1 litre jars don’t!

 

How to Can Apple Pie Filling

Makes 6-7 x 750 ml jars

Ingredients
3 kilos apples, unpeeled weight *
800 grams sugar
250 grams corn flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 litres water
(Optional: extra lemon juice to stop apples from browning during preparation)

Note: I used half cooking apples and half eating apples.

Method

  • Sterilise jars, caps and lids. I oven sterilise the jars and boil caps and lids on the stove top. I always sterilise a couple of extra jars as when you cook with fresh produce, the amount you make will vary.
  • Peel, core and slice apples. I peel all the apples first, then core and quarter them all, and finally slice. I store the peeled apples in a large pan of water with a little lemon juice added to stop them from browning while I work).

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  • In a large stock pot combine the sugar, corn flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice and water and heat until the sugar fully dissolves, and the syrup thickens.

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  • Drain the sliced apples. Combine the syrup and apples together in a large pan. My 8.5 litre maslin pan from Lakeland was perfect.

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  • First transfer the apples into the sterilised jars up to the marked marked filling line. Use a spatula or spoon down the inside edge of the jars to wiggle the contents about a little and allow them to pack down further. You want to fit as many apples into each jar as you can without actually squashing them down.

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  • Next, pour the syrup into the jars, also up to the marked fill line.

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  • Wipe the rims clean, position the disc caps and screw the lids in place.

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  • Prepare your water bath and bring the water up to boiling. In my case, I used a large aluminium stock pot with a couple of thick tea towels on the base and additional tea towels pushed between and around the sides of the jars to separate them and keep them from touching the pan directly.
  • Carefully lower jars into the pan, ensuring that the water comes up at least two inches above the tops of the lids.
  • Boil the jars for half an hour. Check regularly to ensure that the water is still boiling and to top it up to the correct level, if necessary. (Do this from a boiled kettle so you don’t reduce the temperature).
  • Once processed, remove the jars and leave to cool.
  • The heat treatment should have created a vacuum seal.

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You will notice that the apples shrink during the heat treatment. When we made our first apple pie, we used some of the syrup in the pie and served the rest as a delicious sauce over the top.

The pie filling was fabulous, so I’m really looking forward to cracking open the other jars. However, I’m also very happy that they will last for at least a year or two in the store cupboard, should we wish.

To make your apple pie, simply line a pie dish with short crust pastry, spoon in your filling, lay a pastry lid over the top, crimp the sides, make a slit on top for the steam to vent and bake for about half an hour. I would suggest a 7-8 inch pie dish for a 750 ml jar and an 8-9 inch dish for a 100 ml jar.

You will likely have left over syrup that doesn’t fit into the jars. Either store in sterilised jars or keep in the fridge and use over the next week. It would make a great sauce to serve with pancakes or over ice cream, stir into a bowl of porridge or rice pudding, whisk into a salad dressing with oil and vinegar. I think it would also make a great apple cake, along the lines of lemon drizzle, pouring the apple syrup over a simple apple cake.

 

With thanks to Le Parfait for sending me some of their jars to play with.

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