Stem ginger and clotted cream ice cream with rhubarb compote

Stem ginger and clotted cream ice cream with rhubarb compote

My ever-beloved Nigella has often written about her mantra of “I may be extravagant, but never am I wasteful”. This is a sentiment I took to heart when I made this, as while it’s undeniably indulgent, it involved using ingredients which may have gone to waste otherwise.

As is often necessary after the festive season, I became a bit of a self-styled Queen of the Leftovers at the beginning of January, tailoring almost every meal around what was left in the fridge (even more so than usual). Among the leftovers this year was an unopened tub of Cornish clotted cream, which Owen’s mum brought for us – among other gifts – when she came to stay over Christmas. We both love clotted cream (who doesn’t), but knew we were unlikely to use it before it went out of date a few days after New Year. So, I decided to make ice cream, the idea being that I could stash it in the freezer until we could face eating pudding again (bearing in mind we’d only just finished the infamous New Year cheesecake). I went Googling for inspiration, and settled on stem ginger ice cream.

As luck would have it, I also found a lone bag of rhubarb in the reduced fruit and veg section when I went shopping. Rhubarb and ginger are notoriously tasty bedfellows, so I took the opportunity to make a rhubarb compote to go with the ice cream. This was also stashed in the freezer.

I had a 227g tub of clotted cream, which made a large amount of custard. I therefore had to churn the ice cream in two batches as it wouldn’t all fit in my ice cream maker. To make things simpler, the recipe below gives the amounts for one batch of ice cream.

Clotted cream and rhubarb

Stem ginger and clotted cream ice cream

Ingredients

  • 115g clotted cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks (you can freeze the whites for use in something else)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • About 50g stem ginger from a jar, chopped into small pieces (this is equivalent to about three or four balls of stem ginger)
  • 2 or 3 tablespoonsful of stem ginger syrup from the jar

Add the cream and milk to a pan and heat together gently, stirring as you go, until almost boiling but not quite. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Add the sugar, salt and egg yolks to a bowl and beat together until the mixture turns a pale shade of yellow.

Gradually add the heated milk and cream mixture to the bowl, a ladleful at a time, whisking as you go. You want to do this carefully so the eggs don’t scramble with the heat.

Once all the mixture is combined, return it to the pan and heat it gently again until it is of a consistency which coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Put the mixture into a bowl and allow it to chill thoroughly. Once chilled, put it in an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice cream has churned, fold in the stem ginger pieces and syrup. Scrape it into a container and put it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it. (It’ll probably need at least a few hours to firm up properly).

Rhubarb compote

Ingredients

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 40g caster sugar
  • A tiny splash of water (and I mean really tiny – the rhubarb will leak a lot of liquid)

Chop the rhubarb into pieces about an inch long and add to a pan along with the sugar and water. Heat on a medium heat, stirring regularly until the rhubarb is soft, but still has some shape. You could add more sugar to taste if you like.

Rhubarb

If freezing, transfer the stewed rhubarb (stewbarb) into a container with a lid and chuck it in the freezer.

Happy New Year!

As is always the case over the festive season, I’ve over indulged, food and drink wise, on a scale that could rival King Henry VIII. There have been moments when I’ve felt as though I’m one Malteser away from slipping into a diabetic coma. I’d reached the stage where I was spending most of my time laying on my back on the sofa like a helpless tortoise, whimpering feeble requests for fennel tea and steamed vegetables. I may be exaggerating slightly, but you get the idea. I certainly shouldn’t complain- unlike many unlucky people I know, I’ve managed to survive December without contracting norovirus or a stinking cold.

Now that 2013 has arrived, I can get back to something resembling normality and enjoy a fresh start. While it will be nice to eat some extra healthy food after all the excess, I’d be lying if I said I’d turned over a completely new (lettuce) leaf. As I write this, I can smell the ham that is slow cooking in Coca Cola in my kitchen (the Nigella classic). We also had people over last night to help us welcome in the New Year, and as well as cooking this chilli, I made the chocolate digestive cheesecake from Lorraine Pascale’s Home Cooking Made Easy. Oh. Em. Gee. If a cheesecake-induced coma is a thing that is possible, then I think it nearly happened last night. Not that it wasn’t good- I just should have dished up smaller portions (a word of advice- an eighth per person is TOO MUCH, PEOPLE!) If I made it again, I would consider using a plain digestive base rather than chocolate digestives, as the extra chocolate made it quite tough to cut through. Also, I would probably leave off the melted chocolate topping as I made a bit of a mess of it and, to be honest, the cheesecake is amply rich enough without it.

This is what's left of 'Cheesecake-ageddon'.

This is what’s left of ‘Cheesecake-ageddon’.

Ham in Coca Cola

Ham in Coca Cola – before and after.

Luckily, the weather finally got its act together today after being mostly wet and windy for the last few weeks. So, we made the most of it by enjoying a refreshing walk in the park to assist the recovery from what will henceforth be referred to as ‘Cheesecake-ageddon’.

Anyway, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Here’s to a marvellous 2013.

*Eats a fistful of antacid tablets and reaches for the Berocca*

Nigella’s risotto bolognese

Risotto bolognese probably shouldn’t be a thing. But what a thing it is. I know I’m always banging on about risotto, but I make no apologies for writing about this one- it’s comforting and tasty and ideal as a bit of a Saturday night treat. Honestly- you could do a lot worse than plonking yourself down in front of a decent film with a bowl of this to shovel into your gob.

This is my own version of Nigella’s recipe, which I can’t find on her website or the BBC one. It is in her Kitchen book though (incidentally my favourite of her books so far).

Ingredients

  • 4 rashers of bacon, excess fat trimmed off
  • An onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • A small carrot, scrubbed and grated
  • A stick of celery, chopped roughly
  • Three cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • A tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Marsala
  • Milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A beef stock cube
  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 150g risotto rice
  • A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan

Snip the bacon into tiny pieces and fry in a dry pan until it’s starting to get nicely crispy.

Put the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into a food processor and whizz until well puréed. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bacon pan and add the mush from the food processor. Cook over a medium heat for about five minutes.

Whizz the chopped tomatoes in the food processor and add these to the pan as well. Add a glug of marsala and a splash of milk, along with the bay leaves and crumbled stock cube. Stir everything together and leave on a low heat for a bit.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, brown the beef mince and drain off any excess fat. Stir the risotto rice into the beef.

Boil a kettleful of water.

Start to add the tomato sauce to the beef/ rice mixture a ladleful at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the moisture before adding the next ladleful. When all the tomato sauce has been used up, start to add boiling water from the kettle, roughly a ladleful at a time, still allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next one. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked. This could take 20 to 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley and a generous amount of parmesan. Season with pepper to taste (you probably won’t need salt as the bacon is salty). Divide into bowls and serve with extra parmesan on top.

Serves two greedy people (but could easily feed three).

This is why I don’t bake

I’m not much of a baker. My cavalier attitude to cooking (a handful of this, a glug of that) doesn’t translate well to the scientific, accurate world of baking. However, every now and then I think: “How hard can it be to bake a cake/ some bread?” and give it a go, only to end up ballsing it up spectacularly and reminding myself why I don’t bother the rest of the time. This happened this week, when I decided to bake some fairy cakes to take into work on my last day (as I’m leaving to start a new job). I had all my ingredients ready, along with some Smarties and marshmallows to decorate the cakes with, and was feeling rather positive about the whole thing.

The recipe I used was the cupcake version of the dense chocolate loaf cake from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. I’m not going to blame Nigella- in my eyes she can do no wrong, and I’m not going to blame my oven (even though it’s rubbish), because a bad workman blames his tools. This is a summary of what went wrong:

I decided to double the cupcake recipe and also had to keep turning back a page because the actual method for the batter was under the loaf cake heading. Because I wasn’t concentrating properly, I ended up adding four eggs instead of two because I was looking at the ingredients list for the loaf cake and not the cupcakes. In my panic, I then had to make up the extra ingredients to match the four eggs I’d added and ended up with a huge, almost unmanageable amount of batter. I also missed out the bit in the recipe about adding boiling water to the batter to make it more liquid (although I added it to the remaining mixture while the first batch of cakes was cooking and they still didn’t turn out right).

So, after a lot of swearing and mess, I calmly admitted defeat. Behold, the culinary abomination that is my attempt to make fairy cakes- something that most children have mastered by the time they’re about eight years old:

I won’t tell Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry if you don’t…

Another bloody recipe for chilli con carne

I know, I know- the last thing the internet needs is another recipe for chilli con carne. On top of this, I went through all my cook books today and counted up eleven different recipes for chilli (and that was just the basic ones, not including vegetarian ones and what not). Despite this apparent saturation of the market, I’m going to go ahead and post my contribution anyway.

I often find myself making this when we have people visiting, as I can just plonk the pot from the slow cooker on the table and let people help themselves. It’s also a bit of an indulgent Saturday night favourite in our household- ideally washed down with a cold beer (perhaps Sol or Desperado) or a nice glass or three of red wine. We enjoyed this earlier tonight while watching the new series of Doctor Who (Geronimo!) and followed it with Nigella’s glitzy chocolate puddings.

Ingredients

  • 60g dried kidney beans
  • 500g lean beef mince or turkey mince
  • About 125g chorizo, cut into small half moons/ chunks
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • Fresh red chillies- as many as you like, finely chopped
  • A handful of cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A tablespoon of cornflour
  • A generous glug of red wine
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 6 (ish) sun-dried tomatoes- I use the ones that come in jars of oil, chopped into small bits
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • A few drops of Angostura Bitters (optional)
  • 2 squares of dark chocolate (the darkest you can get but at least 70% cocoa solids)

Soak the dried beans overnight or for at least 8 hours in plenty of water with a bit of bicarbonate of soda added to it. When they’re soaked, drain them well and add to a pan with enough water to cover. Bring them to the boil, then let them simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside. (Don’t be tempted to miss out this step- The beans need to be soaked and boiled in order to get rid of toxins in their skins that can apparently cause severe stomach cramps.)

Fry the mince until cooked and drain off any excess fat or liquid. Add the chorizo, onion, red pepper and fresh chilli to the pan and fry for a bit. Some fat should come out of the chorizo but add a bit of oil if it looks a bit dry. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and fry for a bit longer to get them nice and fragrant. Add the cornflour and stir until it is coated by the oil and juices. Turn up the heat, then add the red wine, allowing it to bubble away for a bit. Add the chopped tomatoes (I like to whizz these in a food processor first but don’t worry if you can’t be bothered with this), sun-dried tomatoes, cumin powder, smoked paprika, Angostura Bitters (if using) and the drained red kidney beans.

You can add chilli powder or flakes to adjust the heat to how you like it.

Put the whole lot into a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-8 hours. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, I’d suggest cooking this on a low heat on the hob for about an hour or until the kidney beans are cooked through) Shortly before serving, pop in the squares of dark chocolate and stir in thoroughly until melted. Serve with basmati rice with sour cream dolloped on top.

Serves four (or two with another two portions for the freezer).

Cooking away in the slow cooker.

One of Nigella’s glitzy chocolate puddings.

Summersotto

I’m very fond of risotto. It’s quick and easy to make and versatile too. I especially enjoy it in the depths of winter, when you need something comforting and stodgy to shovel down and make you feel all cosy. However, I recently made this ‘Summersotto’ when the weather was a bit warmer, as I wanted a risotto that was light and summery (despite this being a bit of a contradiction in terms). I didn’t really want to call it ‘Summersotto’, by the way- it sounds like the sort of thing Nigella would come up with (although my unconditional love for her still stands). I purposefully wrote down ‘Summer Risotto’ when I noted down the recipe, but the word ‘Summersotto’ crept back in and now I’m stuck with it. Sorry about that.

One thing I will say about risotto is that it’s important to be prepared. I’m not usually the sort of person who gets all my ingredients set up in bowls, Delia style, before I start. I make an exception for risotto though- it only takes a few minutes to get everything ready and it ensures you can give it your all for the eighteen minutes of stirring that follows (let’s call it twenty- risotto recipes are always so precise about that magic number of eighteen minutes but who’s really counting?)

Ingredients

  • A knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • An onion, chopped
  • 165g risotto rice (150g would be enough for two, but I buy risotto rice in 500g packets and use a third per risotto)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • White wine
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 100g frozen broad beans
  • 100g frozen peas
  • A small courgette, grated
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Fresh mint, chopped
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • 100g feta, chopped into small cubes
  • Parmesan (optional)

Get all your ingredients ready. Put a small pan of water on to boil and in a separate, larger pan, melt the butter. Add a glug of olive oil and then add the onion. Cook the onion until it’s turning translucent and add the risotto rice. Stir to coat everything in butter and oil, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or so. Turn the heat up a bit higher and add a generous glug of white wine and the lemon juice. Allow the booze to cook off a bit.

Begin to add your vegetable stock a ladleful at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding the next one- you know what to do. Keep stirring as you go. When you’ve used about half of your stock, add the broad beans and peas to the smaller pan of boiling water. Cover and allow to simmer.

When you’ve used up all your stock, test a couple of grains of rice to see if they’re cooked. If not, add a bit more stock or boiling water and keep stirring for a couple more minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir through the grated courgette, lemon zest and herbs. Drain and add the beans and peas.

Divide into bowls and sprinkle the feta over the top. Add some parmesan too, if you fancy.

Serves two.