This always happens to me. The cold weather swings by unannounced and I promptly have the urge to make ice cream. Not in summer when it’s the most logical, no, no, no, let’s wait till the mercury hits below 15 (59 for those in the Fahrenheit world) and then dust off the ice cream maker…
To be fair it seems like my favourite season, Autumn, took a leave of absence this year in Melbourne. It was summer, and then voila! Winter said hello. I feel a little cheated. So why not cheer myself up with ice cream?
I’m also reminiscing a little of my trip to Japan in February and putting two and two together, I thought a little matcha ice cream will bring on a large dose of comfort.
While in Kyoto, we visit Ippodo Tea House, renowned for its many varieties of Japanese tea, from the everyday subtle Sencha to the bold and thick Koicha. The Ippodo website wonderfully explains the different types of tea, its components and preparation methods for those who are keen to find out more.
Matcha is a shade-cultivated tea leaf that is finely ground, has a sweet aroma and gloriously jade-green in colour. It is the tea used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. A true properly prepared matcha is quite an acquired taste – rich, full-bodied, slightly bitter and salty. Recommended to partake with a sweet treat.
I bought the noob version of matcha when I was in Kyoto – which is essentially an easy to mix, pre-sweetened matcha. And this was what I used to make the ice cream. I used Billy Law’s matcha ice cream recipe and just omitted the sugar. What resulted was matcha ice cream that was delightfully creamy and full of earthy green tea flavour and perfectly sweetened. (Well for my taste as I’m not a fan of overly sweet stuff)
MATCHA ICE CREAM
Recipe by Billy Law in ‘Have you eaten yet?’
Serves 6 – 8 (I halved the recipe)
375ml (13 fl oz/1.5 cups) thickened (whipping) cream
375ml (13 fl oz/1.5 cups) full cream milk
115g (4 oz/0.5 cup caster sugar (which I omitted due to pre-sweetened matcha)
2 tablespoons matcha powder (I used 6 tablespoons of the matcha mix)
1. Whip the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside.
2. Put milk, sugar and matcha powder into a food processor and process until well combined and the sugar has dissolved. Strain the mixture througha fine sieve into the whipped cream. Fold the cream gently into the mixture, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (Thanks to my noob matcha mix, I only had to mix it in the milk and stir to dissolve, no straining required)
3. Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. It will take 15 – 20 minutes for the ice cream to set. Serve immediately or transfer to a container and store in freezer for firmer texture.
Summer has well and truly arrived. It doesn’t help when it’s also the last working Friday before the Christmas break. Getting through today is tough – my brain’s on holiday mode, I’m listening to the Chipmunks singing carols and I’m staring out my office window. You can see in the distance, the glistening waters of the bay calling out to me…
I have been busy too…busy practicing my face painting skills – ha! (Very productive day isn’t it?)…I’m the official kid’s face painter this Christmas Eve at work. Sticky children, face paint, cookies…that should make those three hours at the office on Christmas Eve pass speedily. I hope.
I do have a Christmas cookie recipe to share…but first I’m craving for some of this…shaken iced tea – just like the ones in Starbucks (in the US). Blissful beverage on a hot summer’s day.
HOMEMADE SHAKEN ICED TEA
6 tea bags (black tea)
1.5 litres boiling water (2 quarts)
1/2 cup lemon cordial
lots of ice
Add tea bags and water, stir it around and let tea bags sit for about 5 minutes (or more if you like your tea strong). Add in lemon cordial, shake it well (or stir) and taste. Add more cordial if required. Let tea cool off, remove bags, add lots of ice, shake it some more and serve.
Happy summer for those in the southern hemisphere! I’m off camping by the beach this Christmas…woo hoo! Can’t. Wait.
Ferran Adria, of the legendary El Bulli restaurant came up with an amazing cookbook for home cooking called The Family Meal. This book is way cool. 31 meals planned out, with each step of each meal fully documented with photographs. The ingredient list also caters to meals for 2 right up to 75! Very convenient indeed.
My first attempt at one of his recipes was this amazingly rich and creamy Caesar Salad dressing. It was one of those times the hubby was away (can’t remember where he went now) and all I had in the fridge worth considering was a head of cos lettuce and half a block of parmesan cheese. It was a no-brainer what I was going to have for my solo dinner.
A caesar salad to me isn’t really a salad. It’s too unhealthy and delicious to count as a one. I love it though, it’s one of those meals I’d have when I just feel like a tasty veggie-filled meal, albeit calorifically rich. Especially this version of caesar dressing – all garlicky and super creamy.
By Ferran Adria, “The Family Meal”
1/2 garlic clove
2 anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil, drained
1 egg yolk
2 tsp Sherry vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp sunflower oil
20g finely grated Parmesan cheese
1. Put garlic, anchovies and egg yolk in a beaker or jug.
2. Process with a hand held blender until smooth.
3. Very gradually, pour in the sunflower oil while blending until it becomes a smooth, thick mayonnaise-like consistency. Blend in the vinegar.
4. Stir in grated parmesan cheese. All done.
Note: If making this dressing for two, I would recommend blending it in a small food processor. I found that with such a small amount, everything got stuck behind the blades in the hand-held blender. Took me a while to scrape them all out.
One of the best things about having leftover roast dinners is having fun the next day creating new dishes from it. Sandwiches filled with sliced roast beef – yum. Warm lamb salad – yum. Diced up roast pork in fritatas or fried rice – oh yeah. And perhaps some leftover roast chicken pizza?
Easy to make, these personal sized pizzas make great weekend lunches. Generally everyone gets creative when it comes to toppings, but the base of the pizza is just as important. I used tomato pesto for some and mayonnaise and bbq sauce for the other. They’re probably not the healthiest (who am I kidding?) but they’re delicious and loads of fun!
Here’s the basic pizza dough base (makes 5-6 thin personal sized pizza bases)
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
300g strong white bread flour
1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
1/2 tablespoon golden caster sugar
around 325ml lukewarm water
Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make an well in the centre. Add your yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like thick porridge. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let double in size for about 45 minutes.
To make pizzas:
Place the dough on a floured surface, divide into 6 portions (or less if you prefer bigger pizzas). Flour and cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.
Take a portion of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick.
Tear off an appropriately sized piece of tin foil, rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour and place the pizza base on top. Continue doing the same with the other pieces and then, if you dust them with a little flour, you can pile them up into a stack, cover them with cling film and put them in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook them, preheat your oven to 250°C/500°F. Top each pizza with your favourite stuff (don’t forget the cheese!), drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and place pizza (on the foil) one at a time directly on the shelf of the oven. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes until golden and crispy.
Want something quick, healthy and delicious? This is a variation from the ever popular San Choy Bow (pork and lettuce wraps) and it is super easy to prepare. I used enoki mushroom (also known as golden needle mushroom) because I love its thin, springy texture.
Basically, if you’ve got pork mince and a variety of vegetables (a good mix of textures) – you’re good to go. I used water chestnuts and bamboo shoots (both canned) as they go really well with the pork and they also add crunch and sweetness to the dish. And of course, the enoki mushroom.Yum yum.
Go for your life, mix and match! That to me is the best part of cooking.
Pork and Enoki Mushroom Lettuce Wraps
300g pork mince
200g enoki mushrooms
100g water chestnuts (about 6-7), diced
70g canned bamboo shoots, shredded or diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp of minced ginger
1 small head of iceberg lettuce
crushed peanuts or cashews for garnish (optional)
For the sauce:
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chinese cooking wine
ground white pepper
1. Separate lettuce leaves and trim any limp/floppy edges so they are like nice little cups.
2. Heat a wok over high heat, add sesame oil and stir fry garlic and ginger (they burn very quickly so keep watch!) – about 20 seconds will do.
3. Add mince, fry for about 3-4 minutes breaking up any lumps, then add water chestnut, bamboo shoots and mushrooms.
4. Add all the sauce ingredients, stir and cook for another minute.
To serve, spoon a portion of the pork mixture onto a lettuce leaf, top with crushed nuts if desired, roll or wrap it up and eat! Simple!
I’m wilting. It’s all UK’s fault. Living in the UK for the past four years has made me less tolerant to hot summer days. I’m talking about real, hot, Aussie summer days. I’m ashamed to say, summer’s only just started downunder and I’ve already started whining. Can’t imagine when the mercury hits forty degrees (celcius) and above! Help me!
To cool off, I’ve started with summer recipes, including this refreshing sorbet. I’ve got my eye on an adorable pink Cuisinart ice-cream maker but have not gotten around to purchasing it just yet. The good thing is this sorbet does not need fancy ice cream makers to churn it. All you need is a fork. Yup, let’s do this the old fashioned way.
I found some beautiful nashi pears at the market and they are usually delicious and juicy on their own, however my craving for coolness gave me the inspiration to use them for my first sorbet of the season. Unlike their creamy counterparts, this fruity sorbet is light and delicate and is a perfect dessert for a hot summer evening.
Nashi Pear and Honey Sorbet
Serves 2 – 4
2 Nashi (Asian) pears
1 tbsp honey
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Place a shallow dish for your sorbet in the freezer. This cools the dish and allows the sorbet to firm up faster.
Bring water and sugar to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the peeled and quartered pears to the syrup and simmer for another five minutes. Add honey and stir to dissolve halfway through.
Set the pears and syrup aside for five minutes before adding the lemon juice and zest. Set aside to cool.
Once cooled, blend the pears and syrup in a food processor to a smooth purée. Push the mixture through a course sieve into the dish which you placed in the freezer earlier. Return the dish and pear mixture into the freezer.
Use a fork to whisk the sorbet every 30 minutes. The sorbet should become fluffier and paler. Sorbet should be ready in approx 2-3 hours.
One of my favourite daikon radish dishes is this – Singapore style soon kueh (turnip dumplings). The original dumpling has a savoury filling made from what is known as a chinese turnip or jicama. However using the daikon was stemmed from the fact that I lived in the UK where turnips are mostly swedes which were not suitable and there were no jicamas in sight. The daikon is versatile and its texture is similar and makes for a good substitute.
I bought a ginormous daikon recently and was intending to cook it in a soup but a bout of peckishness and craving made me change my mind and I rolled up my sleeves for some kneading and moulding action.
I’ve made this dumpling before with a different recipe for the pastry and I wanted to try out a different recipe that is known as the ‘crystal’ version. This meant that the skin of the dumpling is translucent when cooked rather than the opague version that I made before.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the best recipe, because I found the pastry to be a little too tough and chewy. A good crystal dumpling is nice and translucent with a soft skin that has a slight chew. Having said that, the dumplings were still yummy and the hubs and I shared a large plateful for dinner, with loads to spare for breakfast. It’s probably a strange idea for many of you that we have the same kind of food for dinner and breakfast. Probably like having cereal for dinner – which by the way is becoming quite norm for young people in Australia! (Source: some morning show in Australia, can’t remember which one)
The truth is that in Singapore, these dumplings are usually eaten more as a snack (morning or afternoon) and sometimes as breakfast. I don’t follow rules very well and decided I wanted them for dinner. The hubs just eats whatever I cook and so breakfast food for dinner it is! Yay!
In comparison to the two pastries (crystal and opague), the crystal version is a lot easier to work with as it starts off sticky but ends up clean and easy to mould. The other one was much softer and fiddlier (is there such a word?) but it was also softer and less chewy after it’s been cooked.
Might give a different crystal pastry recipe a try next time. For the opague version and filling recipe, go to my soon kueh post.
CRYSTAL DUMPLINGS (Pastry recipe)
Makes about 20-24
375 g Wheat Starch
180 g Tapioca flour
450 ml Boiling water
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
Oil for greasing
Put wheat starch and tapioca flour into a mixing bowl, pour in boiling water and mix quickly with ladle or big spoon. Cover and leave aside for 15 minutes.
Add in oil and knead into a pliable dough. Roll out in a cylinder about 1.5 inches in diameter. Cut with a sharp knife into 3/4 inch slices. Dab a little oil on both sides of the slice and roll out gently into thin round shapes. Cover the rest of the dough with a damp cloth while working to prevent them from drying out
Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the centre of each slice of dough and fold in half. Seal the edges by pressing together.
Steam dumplings for 15-20 minutes and brush with oil after removing from steamer. Serve with crisp fried shallots, sweet caramel soy sauce (kecap manis) and chilli sauce.
Atrocious. I have been away for too long! Went away last week to Sydney with the hubs. He was there for work, while I played tourist. It’s great to be funemployed for a while. I’m still enjoying the break. Usually by this time, I’ll be itching to go back to work, but not right now! Loving spring in Melbourne, loving the time I have to potter around. I’m sure I’ll get bored of this soon enough.
I also planted my first crop of herbs in two galvanised buckets. They started of as seedlings and are flourishing under my care *ahem* It’s quite a surprise really, because I’m not known for my green thumbs. Let’s hope they continue to grow and be consumed throughout the summer months!
I can see more parsley and dill recipes coming this way. For now, I do have a fabulous chimichurri recipe to share. I couldn’t use all of my homegrown parsley as they were still busy growing…so I supplemented with a store bought bunch. I have a chimichurri recipe that I used while in the UK but I think this one’s the one I’ll be using from now. It’s simple, fresh and delicious.
Chimichurri is basically a green sauce originating from Argentina. It is made mostly from parsley and is totally delicious as a marinade or served with grilled meat. I had a couple of grilled thick, juicy steaks recently and served them with this. The combination of herbs, garlic and vinegar lifted the already juicy and delicious grilled steaks and brought them to a whole new level of yum. The Argentinians sure knew what they were doing.
If you haven’t had chimichurri before, you HAVE to try this.
Enough for 2 – 4 steaks
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stems
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsps fresh oregano leaves (can sub 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Finely chop the parsley, fresh oregano, and garlic (or process in a food processor several pulses). Place in a small bowl.
2 Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Adjust seasonings.
Serve immediately or refrigerate. If chilled, return to room temperature before serving. Can keep for a day or two.