8 April 2014

Churn It Up!

I made an investment this week!

I bought an ice cream churner.

My last ice cream recipe post was quite popular with a few people. I had a few messages from people who had a read and tried making my Coco Piña Ice Cream. They thought it was delightful too!

I would love to make more ice cream. I do have very good reasons.

1) It is my absolute most favourite food ever.
2) You can make a plethora of flavours (I love variety!)
3) It can be a guilt-drenched treat (for naughty days) or a guilt-free delight (for fatty days).

So my little goodie-box arrived!

I bought a churner with a generous 1.5 litre canister. I found it HERE on Amazon for around £20. This particular churner is on an 80% price mark-down, so it's worth grabbing quick! You pop the canister in the freezer for 12 hours before you make your ice cream - it's lined with a slow-defrost gel that stays frozen for a while during the churning process. Using this churner, ice cream takes about 20-30 minutes to make. You can buy ice cream churners that have a self-contained freezing unit. This would be much more straight-forward and better for a sudden, urgent ice cream craving, but they usually come at about £200 a pop!

So unboxed my new baby and set it up.

The mixing paddle scrapes the edges of the bowl and churns the ice cream mixture constantly, so it freezes slowly and doesn't produce solid ice crystals. That way, you get a smooth, creamy ice cream and not a gritty, frosty slush...or a block of milky ice!

Just when I thought that was it, I noticed a pop of colour at the bottom of the parcel. I fished the object out and...oh...hello there!

They sent a Ben and Jerry's Recipe Manual! It's a pretty hefty book and it is crammed with a lot of funky recipes. They even have recipes for their classic flavours like Cherry Garcia and New York Fudge Chunk.

The book is very informative if it's your first time making ice cream. The beginning chapter gives you an understanding of the process, some handy flavour tips and a basic grasp of the food chemistry involved in making a perfect ice cream.

I was delighted with this surprise! I'll try some of these out and share them with you if they turn out wonderfully!

I hope to bring you a few interesting ice cream recipes in very near future! Do you have any flavour ideas to start me off?

Thanks for reading,

Anthony :)

1 April 2014

Piña Coco Ice Cream

Pineapple Coconut ice cream - a taste of holiday, whenever.

During my first year of university, I made a lot of ice cream: low-fat, low-carb, soya ice cream, fro-yo - the lot. Before I forked out for an ice cream churner, I tried and failed many times at making a no-churn, smooth, scoopable ice cream that didn't just freeze into a solid block of ice. I tried different ingredients and recipes, and eventually found a Goldilocks balance. To make no-churn ice cream, you need the right balance of sugar and fat so that the ice cream will remain in a constant, crystal-free liquid state, even in a -18°c freezer! My recipe requires no churning, so you literally have nothing holding you back from making it yourself.

Pineapple and coconut remind anybody of a holiday. Whether you yacht around in Antigua or take a package holiday to Ibiza, a Piña Colada is bound to have crossed your path at some point. It's a trademark of relaxation and vacation!

We've had some incredibly stuffy weather here in Wales this week. Shorts are making their way back out of their seasonal wardrobe crypts are meeting the sunshine once again. Of course, when the weather becomes lovely and bright, so do we. We're happier, more optimistic and we tend to eat more nutrious, healthier food. I'm sure, if the weather were nicer more, we'd be a much healthier nation!

I love to cook when it's sunny. I become so inspired to make colourful, happy food because I feel happy. And today, on yet another sunny, warm day, I chose to put together something happy, honest and reminiscent of vacation - perfect for a day off! 

This sunny, refreshing ice cream requires no churning. If you have an ice cream churner, by all means use it. However, I'm old-skooling it in this recipe! You won't get a perfectly smooth Walls texture, but you'll have a cool, creamy dessert with a charmingly home-made quality.

Here is what you'll need for your taste of summer holidays:

+ 1 medium pineapple (or 2 tins of pineapples rings).
+ 400ml can of coconut milk (not fat free).
+ 400ml of natural yoghurt.
+ 4 tablespoons of icing sugar

And that's all!

Let's begin:

1) Take your pineapple.

We're going to reduce this fruity bombshell into domino-sized chunks, Here's how:

a) Chop off the pineapple's head and bum.

You'll be left with a pineapple 'drum'.

b) Cut your drum in half and then into quarters.

c) Cut your quarters again so that you produce 8 segments that look like a pineappley Union Jack.

d) Now slice the tough husk off each segment.

e) Then slice off the pointy tip of your segments. 

The reason why we're cutting the pointy edge off is because pineapple contains a strong protease enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain breaks down proteins, which explains why your tongue burns if you eat too much pineapple! Some people end up with a sore tummy even after just a small amount. Sadly I'm one of those people! If you're the same, remove the pointed edge of your pineapple, as the core of the pineapple is where the bromelain is usually most concentrated!

f) Now you should have sticks of pure pineapple flesh. Chop them into chunks and add them to a large beaker or a blender.

Make sure to keep a baton to yourself. All this chopping should honour you with a tasty treat!

2) That's the technical bit done! It's all downhill from here. Open your can of coconut milk and admire its pure white, whippy texture. 

You need to use full-fat coconut milk, not the reduced fat variation. The fat (don't panic, it's naturally-occuring fat in the coconut) is vital for making a smooth, scoopable ice cream. This won't work without it.

Empty the whole can of coconut milk into your pineapple. Give it a long sniff. What you'll smell is a sign of what is about to come! Holy tropical delight.

It should smell like beach bars and days by the pool.

3) Now add in your yoghurt and mix until it's all roughly combined.

4) Now we're going to blend it all together. I had to take mine inside for this part! Simply crush it all together in a blender or with a hand-blender until the pineapple chunks are annihilated.

5) Mix in your 4 tablespoons of icing sugar, and blitz once again to eradicate any sugary nuggets. You'll notice your mixture become rather thick and glossy. Icing sugar increases the melting point of the mixture, so when you freeze it, you should end up with a scoopable ice cream and not a solid block of ice. This is what makes it no-churn!

6) Pour your ice cream mix into a container and freeze it for a good few hours. Your work is officially done!

7) Once it's frozen through, you can remove it from the freezer. Leave it for 10 minutes to thaw slightly before scooping and serving into bowls.

I suggest adding a chunky scoop to a tall glass of lemonade for a sparkly summer slingback!

On this occasion however, I blended a few scoops into some milk for a deliciously delicate tropical smoothie!

Hope you enjoy this delight!

Do you know any other ways of making a non-churn ice cream? I've seen many recipes but I'd love to know which ones produce the best results! 

Thanks for reading!

Anthony :)

30 March 2014

Banana Honey Nut Loaf

You know those days when you want to eat delicious, indulgent food and find any excuse to convince yourself that it was a healthy, nutritious choice? If you're having one of those days, this recipe is for you.

It's cake, but it's made with wholesome, nutrient-rich ingredients aplenty: honey, bananas, oats, walnuts. You can't deny it - it's a more nutritious choice than a Newcastle Brown Ale Chocolate Fudge Cake.

It's a great excuse to use up any of those bananas that are becoming unacceptably brown, and the other ingredients can be easily salvaged around the house if you've ever made a cake once or twice before. You should really be able to make this without having to leave the house for ingredients - you can stay in your pyjamas actually.

Here is what you'll need to fish from your cupboards:

+ 2 very ripe bananas
+ 4 tablespoons of honey 
+ 1 cup/mug-full of walnuts
+ 4 tablespoons of rolled oats
+ 170g of plain flour
+ 120g softened butter
+ 120g of brown sugar
+ 2 eggs
+ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
+ 1 level teaspoon of nutmeg
+ 1 teaspoon of baking powder
+ 1/4 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate

Icing (optional):
+ 1 teaspoon of honey
+ 2 tablespoons icing sugar

Now here is how you put it together:

1) Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Grease a loaf tin with some oil. Cut a small rectangle of greaseproof paper to rest at the base of the tin, and then grease over that. It'll make life easier for you down the line!

2) Peel your bananas.

 Make sure they're starting to brown, at least! If they still have skin as clear as an Elle cover model, then they won't have developed their flavour and they won't add much depth or aroma to the cake. If they're incredibly ripe like mine, the smell will be very strong and banana-ry!

 I love the smell of bananas at this stage!

Once peeled, tear your bananas into chunks and add them to a deep mixing bowl.

Mash with a fork until you have a sticky gloop. Don't worry if you still have lumps, it'll add a charming texture to your cake!

3) Add in the majority of the ingredients, starting with the butter...

Mix the butter in as best as you can. Don't worry if it seems like the butter isn't combining with the banana. It will remain grainy-looking until you add the flour later on.

Then add your honey...

...and add your eggs...

...your sugar and vanilla...

...your nutmeg...

...and finally the baking powder and sodium bicarbonate. Mix it all until it's combined into a thick, sticky liquid.

4) Sieve in your flour and fold it all gently into your goo until you make a smooth batter. Add your oats now too. You should notice the grainy flecks of butter begin to magically disappear!

Now tip your oats in and mix it all together into a lumpy batter.

5) You may have bought your walnuts already chopped - if so, well done! I was silly and bought walnut pieces, which were rather large. Incidentally, if your walnuts aren't already chopped, just crush them with the ball of your hand into a knobbly rubble.

Next, you want to heat up a dry pan to a medium-level heat.

Once hot, throw in your nuts and let them toast. Give the pan a jiggle every now and then. Make sure they don't burn.

Toasting your walnuts will awaken the flavour and give them a head-start as soon as they hit your cake batter!

Speaking of which, add your toasted walnuts into your cake batter and mix evenly throughout. Keep a few walnuts back for sprinkling later.

6) Once evenly mixed, add your cake batter to your loaf tin.

Once settled, top the cake batter with your kept-aside walnuts. They'll add a rustic, rocky lid to your loaf.

7) Pop your loaf in the oven for 40-50 minutes until it's springy and dry in the middle.

Impale it with a skewer or a knife. It should come back out clean and batter-free. If the signs are good, remove it from the oven and let it cool till it's warm.

The Honey Icing

This honey icing will perfectly complement the flowery sweetness of your cake. You will have that pleasant surprise of licking your lips afterwards and discovering some leftover sweetness to enjoy!

1) Add your icing sugar to a small bowl.

2) Drizzle a teaspoon of honey onto your snowy dune of icing sugar.

3) Add a teaspoon of water to your icing mixture. Mix until it is smooth. Add very small amounts of water until you have a runny icing that is the same consistency as pouring cream.

4) Pour this nectar-sweet frosting over your cake. Smear it evenly over your cake to make sure the whole thing is covered in a wet, sugary shimmer. Leave to dry.

5) Once your icing has dried into a sweet, icy slush, you may finally remove your loaf from the tin.

Cut into slices and serve it to people that you like. This cake is too sweet to share with haters!

*May I suggest you have it for breakfast with a smudge of peanut butter?*

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try it and like it, let me know how it turns out for you. I'd be interested to know any variations you would try with it!

Thanks for reading!

Anthony :)