Tag Archives: Desserts

Fig leaf ice-cream

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All the world may be discussing American politics but I have my own disaster, which is particularly sad news during summer. My KitchenAid Ice Cream maker has sprung a leak and nothing we try seems to be able to repair it.  I am sad that such a reliable piece of my kitchen equipment hasn’t stood the test of time and use as it was only 10 years old and I know it hasn’t been dropped.

I noticed iridescent blue droplets in my freezer drawer and wondered where it had come from. I knew we hadn’t been drinking blue curacao cocktails so thought it might be the purchased icy poles that my husband had bought for the grandchildren.

Because I can be quite spontaneous in my cooking, I prefer to keep the ice-cream maker in the freezer so that it is always ready to use. As I lifted the ice-cream maker tub from the freezer I saw small droplets down the side under the little prongs. Not realising that they had originated from the ice cream maker I wiped them away and used it.

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I adore making ice cream and my family love eating it. They will eat it for breakfast if they think they can get away with it. When I take the lid off the container, I often find finger marks swirling around on the surface and the volume gradually decreases whether I have served it or not. The mysterious freezer night raider strikes again. Even the 2-year old grandson knows where to find it in the freezer drawer and boy does he look disappointed if he cannot find any. I mean really Nanna, you have let the side down!

My fig tree has been bursting with beautiful foliage and I was thinking of what I could do with these flavoursome leaves. I wrap fish in young fig leaves and cook them under the grill for a quick and delicious summer meal.  The leaves impart a citrusy coconut flavour to the food and this is one of the nicest ways to serve fish.ww_fig-leaf

I leafed through the emails my sister had recently sent over in which we discussed our favourite restaurants and chefs in London. She has a professional ice-cream making machine which I envy but then again I don’t need to feed 12 people very often.

One of my treats, when living in London was to go to Brett Graham’s Michelin star restaurant The Ledbury. His food is imaginative and delicious and I have been enamoured with the flavour of fig leaf ice-ream and granita. I also follow another wonderful chef, Maria Elia who uses fig leaves to flavour a panna cotta.

Now I planned to make fig leaf ice-cream. I pulled out the recipe my sister had sent me which uses yoghurt to lighten the custard base. I picked the healthiest looking, most luscious unmarked fig leaves, prepared the custard and pulled the ice cream maker from the freezer.

This time I didn’t see any blue droplets so unknowingly I poured the mixture into the freezer bowl and set it to work. The ice cream took a long time to get very cold and naturally I blamed our hot weather. Eventually I decanted the still soft mixture into a container and put it in the freezer. That is when I noticed the disaster waiting to happen.

There was a blue ring of liquid coating the bottom of the ice cream maker and leaving a mark on the kitchen bench. Sadly, I think this means it is the last time I can use this machine.

However, the ice-cream was delicious. Here is the recipe my sister sent to me. I don’t know it’s origin but it may be from Brett Graham or Maria Elia or she may have adapted a recipe and created this one. ww_fig-leaf-ice-cream1

Fig Leaf Ice-cream

 

250 ml milk

250 ml cream

250 gm sugar

2 tablespoons liquid glucose

Finely grated rind of ½ lemon

½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

6 medium-sized fig leaves, washed, dried then torn

500 ml yoghurt

 

Combine milk, cream, sugar, glucose, lemon rind and vanilla seeds in a stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to the simmer then remove from heat, add fig leaves and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a bowl and once it is cool, add yoghurt and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Strain again before churning in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

 

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Linzertorte- totally irresistible

Linzertorte

We have had a cold, blustery damp week and I was getting sugar withdrawals. I had been too busy to bake and had avoided going out to the shops so consequently I didn’t have anything sweet in the house, not a block of chocolate, no biscuits or cakes to nibble on with morning coffee. This is not normal for me as my children will verify. Their delight in coming into my study or office was to raid the drawers in which were stashed my supply of nibbles including salted nuts, chocolate and sweet and savoury biscuits. I work better when I am munching and as my weight has never varied more than a kilo or two, my diet suits me.

So when my family were coming for Sunday dinner recently I went into overdrive and cooked not only a chocolate cake but a Linzertorte as well. Talk about sugar overload: this was the ultimate in a sugar fix. The walnut and caramelized citrus cake with chocolate ganache is superb cut into small pieces to have with coffee and the jam tart: this was pure heaven.

I took pity on my nephew who is studying and sent him home with a large piece of each to get him through the next day while sitting at his desk but there has still been enough for me this week. I am thinking of hiding the last piece of Linzertorte from my husband but he knows all my hiding places. I managed to snaffle the last piece for the photo.

I will share this recipe as it is the easiest torte to make and so adaptable that you can use any type of nuts and jams you have in your pantry and it will still taste divine. I used almond meal as I had already used my walnut meal in the chocolate cake.

I didn’t have raspberry jam but had a small amount of homemade strawberry jam and topped it up with homemade blackberry jam, which was just as delicious. I blended the ingredients in my food processor makes it quicker but it is just as easy but slower made by hand. As I had a small amount of pastry left over, I have made biscuits sandwiched with jam to consume later in the week.

Timing: Pre heat oven to 180°C / 350°F when you have formed the lattice pattern over the jam.

LinzertorteIngredients

  • 160g almond meal (hazelnut or walnut works just as well.)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (an orange or lime will add a different flavour)
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 180g butter, unsalted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, yolks only, gently combined
  • 1 cup of jam, (traditionally raspberry, but I used strawberry and blackberry and it is just as delicious. You could use apricot jam also.)
  1. Toast the almond meal in a frying pan over a moderate heat, or in the oven, until it is lightly coloured and gives off the lovely toasty smell of roasted nuts.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using it.
  3. Blend the almond meal, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon rind, flour and baking powder in a food processor.
  4. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the dry ingredients to make fine crumbs. You can do this in the processor or by hand.
  5. Add the egg yolks and blend together. You can do this gently in the blender or by hand in a bowl. It is a dry mixture and tends to want to crumble. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to one hour. On hot days, if the dough becomes too soft, just refrigerate it for a while.
  6. Lightly grease a pan that has a removable base. I use a long 34cm x 11 cm pan, but a square pan or a round 23 cm pan works just as well. Cut off about ⅔ of the dough and roll it out thinly until about 2-4 mm thick. Don’t worry if it won’t roll out just pat it into the pan and up the sides. Place the torte on an oven tray to keep it stable.
  7. Spread the jam over the pastry. I used the strawberry jam and then topped it up with the blackberry jam. Refrigerate this while you roll out the top sheet of pastry.
  8. Roll the remaining pastry out until it is also 2-4 mm thick and cut it into thin strips. Place the strips across the top of the jam in a decorative pattern. Diagonal works well to form a lattice pattern. Refrigerate to rest the dough for about 30 minutes.
  9. Place the torte into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam starts to bubble. Remove and cool in the pan before removing the tart. Do this before it is completely cold or it might stick to the sides because of the jam.Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream or crème fraîche to cut the sweetness.