42 posts categorized "Recipes"

15 July 2009

Banana & sour-cherry ice-cream

I first made this recipe from a combination of necessity and desire.  Necessity to use up some sour-cherries that I'd had to buy in bulk from Bea, and desire because banana and sour-cherry ice-creams are two of my favourite flavours. 

I think it was at Persicco that I was introduced to great banana ice-cream that tasted of bananas rather than nasty sweets and Matteo at Scoop got me hooked on the wonders of amarena - a fior di latte based sour cherry ice-cream. 

One change you might want to make - and I think I will next time I make it - is to roast the bananas first.  David Lebovitz does this in his book and although I wasn't keen on the consistency of his roasted-banana ice-cream, the flavour was delicious: sweet, caramel, banana gorgeousness.

Makes about 1L

  • 3 bananas
  • 250g pitted sour-cherries
  • 70g brown sugar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tbp butter
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 4 large egg yolks

First you need to make the sour-cherry compote.  I like to keep the compote as sour as possible, so I follow a very simple method of heating the cherries with 50g of caster sugar and a splash of water.  The cherries will gradually release juice and lose their structure.  You may want to add more sugar to taste, but remember the overall ice-cream will be relatively sweet.  Puree the compote and leave to cool thoroughly in the fridge.  You won't want it melting the ice-cream later on.

Slice the bananas, sprinkle with the brown sugar and roast them in the butter until they're brown and glistening, this can take up to 20 minutes. Mash the bananas and set aside.

Whisk together the egg yolks and 100g of caster sugar.  You want them to be light in colour, quite thick but not frothy.

Heat the milk - don't let it boil - and pour over the eggs, but be sure to keep stirring so the eggs don't curdle.

Rinse the pan you've heated the cream in. Put the custard (egg, sugar and milk) into the pan and reheat. Keep stirring it.  It's ready once it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Let the custard cool completely.  It could take up to an hour.

Stir in the cream to the cooled mixture.

Combine the mashed bananas with the cream mixture and place in your ice-cream machine and follow your machine's instructions.

Add the cherries as you decant the ice-cream from the machine into the tub you'll be freezing it in. Layer the ice-cream with the very cold compote.  I tend to add enough compote each time so that it covers the surface of the tub, then add another layer of ice-cream and so on.

14 July 2009

Strawberry ice-cream

I always feel a twinge of guilt using great fruit in anything other than its natural state.  It feels sacrilegious to poncy up what is already pretty close to perfect.

But, a glut of very good strawberries has got me over my squeamishness, they were either going to rot away or be thrown away. What with the recent heat-wave ice-cream was the only thing to do. 

My recipe is an adaption of inspiration from a few other recipes: primarily David Lebovitz's Raspberry Ice-Cream (p93 The Perfect Scoop) and Rosemary Moon's extra-rich vanilla recipe (p21 Ice Cream Machine Book). 

For good measure, I tweaked the bastardised recipes further by chucking in a punnet of gooseberries.  I'd love to say that I alighted on the idea myself, but in truth I was watching HFW's latest series and they had a spot on strawberry jam making.  The lady (no doubt from the WI) showing Hugh how to do it, suggested using gooseberries for their sharpness, instead of the more normal addition of lemon juice - an ingredient I'd originally been planning for this ice-cream. 

This was a thoroughly delicious ice-cream, with clear, sweet strawberries being nicely offset by the sharp gooseberries and rich cream. 

I think possibly next time rather than adapting Rosemary Moon's ice-cream recipe to allow me to use up the double cream I had knocking around, I should have either gone for a straightforward custard base ice cream (fewer eggs) or a traditional gelato (no or at least little, cream). 

Finally, I made this in my Gaggia Gelatiera. It's a great piece of equipment, but I note hard to get hold of now, but there are other machines available.

Makes about 1L

  • 750g strawberries, hulled
  • 150g-200g of gooseberries, topped & tailed
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 6 large egg yolks

Macerate the strawberries in 100g of sugar for 1 hour.

Heat the milk but don't let it boil.

Beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar until pale and slightly thickened and pour onto the hot milk.

Return the mixture to the clean pan (to prevent the custard catching & burning), stirring continuiosuly as you heat it gently.

Once it coats the back of a spoon remove from the heat and cool.  It can take up to a couple of hours to cool thoroughly.

Stir the cream into the mixture.

Puree the strawberries and gooseberries.  If you want your ice cream totally smooth then pass the puree through a sieve.  My preference is to have the bits still in.  There may however be an argument to say you should pass the gooseberries through a sieve - and possibly peel - but not the strawberries.

At this stage it's important to make sure all the ingredients are cold, so that the ice-cream machine can churn as easily as possible.  If they're not all cold, wait for them to cool.  Combine the strawberries and the creamy custard and churn in the ice-cream machine as per your machine's instructions.

It's worth noting that in his recipe for Raspberry Ice Cream, David Lebovitz recommends that to preserve the flavour of the fruit, the ice-cream should be churned within 4 hours of making the puree.

23 June 2009

Chopped liver

American slang has it that the term 'chopped liver' is an insignficant thing, a nothing.

And the ingredients to make the dish itself could easily give the impression that this is something really rather insignificant.  It's a bit of offal, a few eggs and bit of onion.  So, what's all the fuss?

The fuss comes when these things are combined to create a dish of sublime beauty, subtlety and deliciousness.  I accept my association maybe Proustian, but nonetheless it is good.

It would be wrong to think that it is a kosher version of chicken liver pate - or any other pate for that matter.  The ingredient list is short, the methodology straightforward.  It is simply chopped liver.  That's it.  We shouldn't be ashamed of its simplicity and we don't want to masquerade it as something it isn't. 

I like to eat it with new green cucumbers.  You can make your own (I'll post a recipe shortly) or I rather like Snowcrest's - not a statement you'll see me write about anything else Snowcrest makes.

A note on fat: For this recipe I advocate schmaltz - rendered chicken fat.  I know it's not healthy, but as my grandmother said "everything in moderation".  As a crack addict, she was speaking from experience.

If you don't use schmaltz then use a relatively neutrally flavoured oil like vegetable or peanut.  Both have a relatively high smoking point - unlike olive oil - and will allow a better flavour.

Schmaltz has the added advantage of gribenes - a chef's treat if ever there was one.

I made the chopped liver most recently for Simon Majumdar and I'm pleased to see he enjoyed it - shame about his balls.

Below is my mother's recipe that was passed down from her mother and no doubt her mother and so on into Jewish grandmother lore. 

I've adapted my mother's recipe because I use schmaltz, my mother doesn't. Turns out however that in the dim distant past my grandma did.  Although my mum's is excellent, seriously, you should go for the schmaltz.  And if you do, you might want to think carefully about dessert.

Serves 6 as a starter

  • 450g / 1lb chicken livers - not frozen
  • 5 medium onions - diced
  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 250g chicken fat to make schmaltz

Clean the livers.  This involves de-veining them and removing anything that is darker than the rest of the organ.  Simply slice it out.

If you keep kosher, the livers need to be koshered.  Simon in the comments below gives a pretty good method although this is a bit more detailed. (For clarity, I should say that I've amended this bit on koshering the livers because what I had in the first place wasn't correct and it was my original methodology that Simon refers to.)

Hard boil the eggs and separate the egg from the yolk of 7 of the eggs, keep the eighth egg whole and set aside with the 7 whites.

Grate or blitz in the magimix the 7 egg yolks and set aside for garnish.

Fry the onions in the schmaltz until they are a deep brown - it can take about 20 mins.  Towards the end of the cooking try not to let them burn, you want them soft not crispy, ideally.  Some argue a bit of crispiness is ok.  Set aside about 10% of the onions for garnish.

Make sure the livers are as dry as possible - vigorous dabbing with kitchen roll works well - and fry them in the same pan as the onions, on a high heat.  You don't want to clean the pan before you fry them - you want the schmaltzy onion remains in there.

Cook the livers for about 4 minutes - or until they are thoroughly cooked through but before they're dry.  I like them to be a bit pink on the inside with a decent amount of brown caramelisation on the outside.

If you were my grandma you would then combine the livers, the 90% of onions not destined for the garnish, the egg whites and 1 whole egg into a hand grinder.  If you're me or my mother, you'd chuck it in the magimix.  I blitz it until it's the grainy side of smooth - it's totally personal preference.  In his excellent book Yiddish Recipes Revisited, Arthur Schwartz suggests adding gribenes to this mixture.  I haven't tried it.  It sounds naughty, but very nice indeed.

Add the remaining onions and stir in - you don't want them blitzed.

You will need to take a view at this stage whether it is sufficiently moist or too dry.  Tasting is the best way to make this call.  If you think it needs to be a bit moister, then add some schmaltz or oil, but do so carefully.  It can very quickly go from being dry to an oil slick.

Let it cool in the fridge.  Remember those warnings about the dangers of allowing chicken to cool too slowly.  This is chicken offal, so in the fridge as quickly as possible please.

Once completely cool - a couple of hours should do - remove from the fridge and allow it some time to stand and get close to room temperature and taste it.  It will need to be seasoned again because up to now, you've seasoned it and tasted it as a hot dish.  As a cool one, the flavours will be muted so it needs pepping up.  I usually find it needs more pepper than salt.

When serving, my mother sprinkles the previously set-aside egg yolks on top.  Personally I don't, I leave them in a bowl for people to add themselves.

Schmaltz

Never has the dichotomy of good food and bad health been greater than in the case of schmaltz - rendered chicken fat.

To me, it is the very essence of bad good food.  You know it's not healthy, but you also know that an ingredient that adds this much flavour to whatever it touches has to be very good indeed.

And so it is.  Let it near an onion and it will be the sweetest onion you've ever tasted.  It can turn a chicken liver into the consistency of cream and the oi, we shouldn't talk of the things it can do to chicken skin to make the delight of gribenes.

As an aside: do non-kosher butchers charge for chicken fat?  Kosher ones do and I've an inkling non-kosher don't.  Now that my friends is a chutzpah.  As a further aside, can I point out that being spelled with a ch- chutzpah is pronounced as though it is an h.  Please stop saying chootzpar, as in choo-choo, and start saying hootspah, with a slightly guttural 'h' at the start. 

Returning to the matters at hand.  It couldn't be easier to make schmaltz and I'm not sure if this even counts as a recipe.  But here goes enough to make chopped liver for 6.

  • 250g chicken fat

Put the chicken fat into a pan with a tight fitting lid.  Turn on the heat relatively low and let it melt away until you are left with liquid.  You need the lid because it spits insanely and getting burned with chicken fat is not a pleasant experience - nor is cleaning it up from your ceiling.

It could take 20 minutes or so to fully render. 

You can then store the liquid, ideally frozen as it is chicken remember, or preferably use straight away.

If you're very lucky, there will be bits of skin left in the fat - they won't melt - that will have turned golden brown.  Best eaten quickly with a cold beer and smug grin.

22 June 2009

Gribenes

I've never eaten pork scratchings and have long wondered why I've heard so many people speak about them akin to an orgasm.  What is so appealing about a bit of deep fried, hairy pig skin.

And then I made schmaltz and discovered that sitting within the boiling vat of fat was some deep fried chicken skin.  And lo, I ate in wonderment and amazement at these brown scraps in front of me.

Food doesn't get much unhealthier, nor does it get much better.

I have seen recipes that recommend adding onions, which I imagine would make it very good indeed but when I made them, admittedly by accident, there wasn't any onion.

Similarly I've seen recipes recommending you add salt.  If you're using kosher chickens I really don't think it's necessary and would make them too salty.  Kosher chickens are salted as part of the koshering process and until I made gribenes I hadn't appreciated just how much salt is retained in the skin - but it is tasty:

  • 250g chicken fat
  • As much chicken skin as desired

Put the skin into the pan as you are rendering it down for shmaltz.

Once the schmaltz is ready so are the chicken skins.  Dab on kitchen roll to get rid of excess fat and eat immediately.

I strongly advise you don't bother sharing these with others.  You've worked hard, you deserve it.  They don't.

27 January 2009

Veal stock

I've always been intimidated by veal stock but I've had a longing to make it.  The combination of the time it takes to make and its seemingly unrivalled position as the apotheosis of flavour that does it.

The problem I have however, is that I don't have much of a reference point.  Veal stock isn't an ingredient at the heart of the kosher cooking cannon.  It tends to be something used in top end cooking, and frankly, kosher cooking in the UK is never top end.

Despite this handicap, I think I have probably tried it however.  I'm sure there are instances in a restaurant that I've ordered a seemingly vegetarian dish, or a friendly fish dish that has had some veal stock.  I'm even more convinced now I've tasted my own homemade version.  This in itself is an issue because I'd guess not that many people - especially vegetarians - would be able to spot a bit of veal reduction in their nut rissole.

Nonetheless, I wanted to create it for myself. So undaunted, or rather somewhat daunted but determined, I decided to have a go.  

I've always liked The Cook's Book and with Shaun Hill as the tutor for the chapter in the book, I couldn't go far wrong.  I have tweaked his recipe slightly - not because I wanted to get round arcane copyright laws - but because several other recipe I'd seen call for tomato paste and I had some fresh tomatoes knocking around.  It seemed wrong not to include them.

If like me you've been putting it off, don't go out, buy the ingredients and get cooking.  Yes it takes a long time, but frankly it's bloody simple to make.

I used some of the 3 litres created below in a gravy, some of it as a replacement for water in a cholent (oh so good) and the rest is sitting in the freezer.

Makes 3 litres

  • 3kg veal bones
  • 6l water
  • 500g onions
  • 300g celery
  • 300g carrots
  • 300g leeks
  • Squirt of tomato paste
  • 6 cherry tomatoes

Preheat your oven to about 200°C and roast the bones for about 30 minutes.

Pour off the fat from the tray, transfer the bones to a large stockpot.

Add 500ml of water to the now-empty roasting tray and bring to the boil on the stove.  Scrape up residues that have stuck to the bottom of the pan and pour it all (water and residue) into the stockpot.

Bring to the boil, skimming off any foam.  Keep skimming throughout the process to keep the liquid as clear as possible.

Add all the vegetables and the tomato paste.

Simmer uncovered for 8 hours.  Yes, 8.  You need that amount of time to extract all the gelatine.  The smell was great, it was like having meat roasting in the house for a whole day.

Keep skimming throughout.  If you think you need a bit more water, top up the stockpot.

After 8 hours strain the liquid through a fine seive and allow to cool.

Once it has cooled it will have turned into jelly - all that gelatine is doing it's work.

It's then ready to use or freeze as you see fit.

28 September 2008

Browning onions

This is a brilliant video - amusing and informative - that explains how a pinch of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can make all the difference when frying onions. It's a useul lesson in the importance of the Maillard Reaction.

You can read the full post relating to the video at blog.khymos.org.

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