Thursday, 24 April 2014

Honey and Almond Greek Yoghurt Ice Cream

My brother bought me an ice cream maker for my birthday. All my kitchen dreams have come true.

This was just a little experiment to test it out before I get around to using it properly, making ice cream with a egg and cream base and such, and, all things considered, it worked brilliantly. From start to finish this ice cream took under half an hour, if you exclude the freezing of the inner bowl, which took place overnight.

Ridiculously simple to use, this nifty machine will give you soft serve ice cream in under 20 minutes, but a brief spell in the freezer will yield a wonderfully scoopable dessert if you're patient enough. Combinations are literally endless, and I'll definitely be experimenting with real ice creams, sorbets and other yoghurts very soon.

pinterest worthy picture or what?

Honey and Almond Greek Yoghurt Ice Cream

500ml greek yoghurt
3tbsp honey
75g flaked almonds

1. Stir the honey into the yoghurt and pour into the assembled ice cream maker. Turn on and mix for 20 minutes until soft serve consistency. Add in almonds in the last minute and mix until combined.
2. Pour into a container and chill in the freezer until set, about 15 minutes.
3. Serve with fruit, drizzled with extra honey and sprinkled with more almonds.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Hot Cross Buns

Every year my Mum buys hot cross buns for Good Friday from ASDA. They're the squashiest, squishiest, most delicious hot cross buns I've ever had. Having a lot of spare time ('that's a firm 'no' to revision today') and a KitchenAid on my hands this holiday (brought down from the dusty confines of my room in lieu of my Dad's bread maker. Sacrilege), I decided I'd see if I could match and recreate these amazing rolls.

These turned out even better than I'd expected. Despite not having cinnamon (sneakily replaced with nutmeg and ginger - weird, but it totally worked) the flavour was delicious, and thanks to the apricot glaze these rolls were as sticky and sweet as my favourites from the shop.

I've said before, I've never really been that successful with doughs and breads, they just never seemed to rise quite right. UNTIL I found active dried yeast, a true miracle. Somehow, wonderfully, even if the dough doesn't quite proof properly (guess it wasn't warm enough in my kitchen) it works in the oven to create beautifully soft and fluffy rolls. So, make sure you're working with the right type of yeast. Active dried. Can't sing its praises enough.  

Best eaten warm and on the day they're made, these are delicious with butter, jam, or, as I found out after a night out, cheese. If you can, warm cold rolls slightly in an oven or microwave?! to make them super soft and squidgy again.

Hot Cross Buns

550g plain flour
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cardamom
120ml warm water
120ml milk
1 1/2tsp active dried yeast
1 egg
4tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2tsp salt
50g caster sugar
200g (or to your taste) mixed peel and sultanas

For the 'cross'
50g flour
1tbsp icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice
1tbsp vegetable oil

1tbsp apricot jam

1. Mix cinnamon and cardamom with the flour in a large bowl. Mix yeast with warm water and whisk well, then set aside for 10 minutes until frothy.
2. Add the yeast mixture, milk, salt and sugar to the flour and mix well. Mix in the butter and egg, then add the mixed peel and sultanas. Kneed dough until smooth, adding extra flour if it's too sticky, about 10 minutes.
3. Cover the bowl of dough with a tea towel and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size, about an hour.
4. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a lined baking sheet, leaving 3-4'' between each bun as they will spread in the oven. Cover with a towel again and leave to rise once more until doubled in size.
5. Mix the apricot jam with 4tbsp hot water until you have a think glaze. For the 'cross' part whisk flour, icing sugar, lemon juice and vegetable oil together until you have a pipable paste, adding a little water if the consistency is too thick. Spoon into a piping bag and either cut a small corner off or use a small, round piping tip. You can use a plastic bag if you don't have a piping bag.
6. Pipe a cross on the risen rolls, and brush with apricot glaze.
7. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top, basting with more apricot wash every 10 minutes or so.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Rocky Road

Rocky road is the holy grail of chocolate treats, a taste of heaven, and the king of sweets. A delicious mix of chocolate, syrup, biscuits and marshmallows, it's simply sublime, and needs no further introduction.
If you haven't heard of or tasted it then where the hell have you been? Go. You're wasting precious time.
Stop reading, start baking.

This recipe is perfect for kids (or big kids) to make, as there's no baking involved. It's quick, really easy and pretty much fool proof. In fact, I didn't even make this one, my Mum did, which shows you just how simple it is (but let's not even go there, shall we?). This was a trial run for a mass baking session she'll be supervising in school. If 6 year olds can do it, you can, too.

If you're looking to spice up this lovely, but pretty plain recipe, you could try using different kinds of biscuits, like cookies, or ginger biscuits maybe. You can also add in lots of extras, like raisins, glace cherries, fudge, nuts, anything like that would be great. If you're not a milk chocolate fan, I know this works well with white chocolate as well. If you're going down that route, try pistachios, dried strawberries, cranberries and shortbread. The options are endless, really.

Rocky Road
125g butter
3tbsp golden syrup
300g milk chocolate
200g rich tea biscuits
100g mini marshmallows

1. Line a 9'' square baking tin with baking paper. Combine the butter, syrup and chocolate in a saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring often until well combined. Remove from the heat.
2. Crush the biscuits either by hand or in a bag with rolling pin until you have some fine crumbs and some larger chunks. Stir into the chocolate mixture and add the marshmallows, then stir well again until completely combined.
3. Press the mixture into the prepared tin and leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnights. Cut into squares or fingers (small ones - rocky road is very sweet and rich!) and serve.

Rocky road should be stored in containers in the fridge between layers of baking paper to keep it from sticking, and will last about a week.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Meat Counter, Falmouth

For a relatively small town, Falmouth has some top class eateries, and The Meat Kitchen might just be the best I've experienced so far (though I don't think anything will ever beat Rick Stein's).

On first impression, you might be a little intimidated by the small restaurant, The Meat Kitchen, on Falmouth's high street. The place is so hipster* I found myself almost feeling guilty for stepping through the door (being so un-hipster myself), but I was totally wrong to judge.

My flatmate had raved for days about the pulled pork burger she'd tried at The Meat Counter, so when spending the day in town, there was no question where we'd be eating. The set up there is great - you sit down where you like, choose from the chalkboard menu that makes up the entire wall (so hipster), go to the counter, order, and pay. No hassle, no rush, no being accosted by eager waiters. Perfect.

If burgers aren't your thing (who are you? get out.) then The Meat Counter may not be for you, but the choice is so great you're bound to find something everyone in your party will like, so it's well worth a visit. The menu offers several different kinds of amusingly named beef, chicken and pork burgers, with a good range of veggi options too. Don't be mislead by thoughts of meat-cheese-lettuce affairs, these chefs mean serious business, buttering buns with the likes of mustard butter and garlic mayo, and stacking patties high with provolone cheese and house made pickles. These are like the best burgers you've ever had, but kicked up about ten notches.

The chip choices are also far from boring - choose to have yours with cheese sauce & bacon, chilli & cheddar, or pulled pork, coleslaw & BBQ sauce, to name just a few options. We just ordered plain chips, but never actually got to taste them (see below)... A creative range of shakes and desserts are offered as well, but we just stuck to the burgers.

from their Facebook page

After hearing so much about it I was dead set on the pulled pork burger, but when I went to order one at the counter they'd run out of pulled pork, so we had to make another choice. For me this wasn't hard, I'd been eyeing up the mac-n-cheese burger anyway. Libby and I also ordered chips to share, but for some reason we never got these, either. I don't think we were charged for them, so the waitress must just have not heard, but still, that was a bit of a let down.

Service was quick and within 10 minutes our food had arrived on enamel plates (hipster), and was gone within half that time. My mac-n-cheese burger consisted of a fried round of macaroni and cheese (could you get more unhealthy? Fat and carbs deep fried) in a soft, delicious bun, adorned with cheese, flavoured mayo and pickles. A million calories of totally worth it. The thing was huge and very filling so we were actually glad in the end that we didn't get the chips. Libby's 'simply chicken' - buttermilk battered chicken with lettuce, tomato and cheese, I believe - was also apparently very nice. Prices are good for what you get, with burgers going for around £6 each. With a side and a drink you'd probably be looking at paying around £9-£10 for a meal, very competitive for such artisan food and a great atmosphere.

Great food aside, it's also worth paying The Meat Counter a visit for the feel of the place. It's small and intimate, but relaxing, and dining there feels like a real treat, even if you're not paying that much. I loved how the open kitchen let you see the chefs prepping all the fresh ingredients, so you know you're getting top quality grub. You have to be tactical with your timing, though, as seating is first come, first served. We went there quite late (for a lunchtime) about three, and had to wait on bar stools for a proper table. There are only three or four tables with benches, and the rest of the seating is on stools at the window, and if you don't mind this it's obviously no problem, but I can easily see how the place would fill up very quickly in the evenings. Decor is modern with low hanging bare light bulbs and the statement chalkboard walls. The modern vibe is topped off with those enamel plates and mason jar glasses. It's the kind of place you'd expect to see in a hip corner of New York or London, and makes a welcome change to the standard (but still lovely!) places in Falmouth.

Pulled pork and chip sadness aside, I'll definitely be returning to The Meat Counter soon. It has a great vibe, and the relaxed atmosphere makes it perfect for a friendly gathering, but it's also intimate enough to be the perfect setting for something a little more special. It's worth checking out the weekly deals they offer, like 'mates rates mondays' and 'limited editions' of the already fantastic food. Overall, two enthusiastic thumbs up, and a recommendation to anyone passing through Falmouth's high street.

from The Meat Counter Facebook page

Check out The Meat Counter's Facebook page here.

*hipster is hard to explain, but a hipster is the kind of person who drinks from mason jars, is interested in bands before they become popular, and dresses in clothes non-hipsters won't understand. Falmouth is crawling with them.