Spiced Oranges and Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

Have you over come the post-holiday blues yet? Are new year resolutions settling themselves around food, fitness or health? I cannot kid myself any longer.

If I wasn’t eating over Christmas I nose deep in my Grandmother’s cookbooks back at my parents’ house. A good few days of writing up and deciphering recipes lead me to the conclusion that there is just no time for diets and the denial of happy food thoughts. Eat in moderation, and eat well. Exercise accordingly.

And so now for something sweet and sugary. Here is a desert recipe Elise had scribbled into the pages Great Dishes of the World, by Robert Carrier. From the list of spices it sounded wintery. After tasting however, I think this is a desert that could offer itself very well after summer meals – the sharp sweet flavours are a nice refreshing end to a meal perhaps like a barbecue, and it is easy to prepare in advance.


Ingredients:
1/2lb sugar (220g)
1/4 pt water (140ml)
1/4 pt Red Burgundy (140ml)
1 clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips orange peel
2 strips lemon peel
4 oranges


Start by making the syrup base: warm the water over a flame and melt into the sugar. When the sugar is completely melted, combine the Burgundy wine (holding back about two tablespoons for later) and drop in the clove, cinnamon, and strips of orange and lemon peel.  Simmer gently until it is reduced to a syrup. Add the reserved two tablespoons of Burgundy to loosen the syrup a little and increase the alcohol levels again.

Peel and slice the oranges and put into the warm syrup, then chill in the fridge before serving them with ice cream.

Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

This is my variation on a recipe I found in the same book. I think there was more cocoa powder than printed word on these pages of deserts, so I will be trying them all out soon.

Ingredients:
4 egg yolks
120g sugar
1 pinch salt
440ml single cream
1 tsp vanilla esscence
The seeds of a vanilla pod
290ml double cream, thickly whipped

Beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt until it turns a pale yellow colour. Heat the single cream to almost boiling and add to the eggs, whisking until mixture is well blended and no longer grainy.  Pour the mixture into a ban-marie and cook over hot water, stirring continuously, until the consistency becomes custard-like and coats the spoon.

Stir in the vanilla pod seeds and essence, then allow to cool completely.

Once cool, stir in the thick double cream into the vanilla custard and freeze for at least 3 hrs.

Fusion Roasted Poussin

The weekend – I love how it rallies around my work-addled mind and fills it with food-driven temptations. So of course at the end of a weekend is the customary Sunday Roast.

For a change to the usual roasted chicken, I decided to roast poussins – small spring chickens. These are tender young birds full of flavour, that actually offer themselves well to a barbecue  maybe with a little marinade of lemon, thyme, and olive oil or garlic, chilli, orange and oil. But today the winter sunlight is cutting through the cold blue sky and everything is covered in a crisp sheet of frost. Not the weather for barbecues. So I shall be roasting my poussins in the oven.

I grew up with a lot of chinese additions to english recipes. Here is my take on adding some interesting chinese flavours to a classic bird roast (a chickens for this recipe would be fine). The dark marinade makes the skin crispy and moorishly salty which is a great match to the moist and full-flavoured meat inside.

Ingredients:
2 poussins
An orange
Ground white pepper
Salt
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Five Spice
Handful of fresh chives
Half a cup of sherry
1 tbsp sunflower oil

Method:
Start by pre-heating the oven to 190°C.

Finely chop the chives and place in the bird cavities. If you feel daring try placing them between the meat and skin, you will have separate the skin from the breast meat at the top of the crown between the two drumsticks. Be vary careful not tear the skin.

To make the marinade, zest the skin of half an orange into a bowl, but don’t discard the orange. Add the five spice, ground pepper, soy sauce and sunflower oil then combine together with a quick stir. Then rub the marinade all over the bird. Place the orange halves into the bird cavities (including the orange skin is fine).

Set the poussins on a roasting tray and divide the sherry by tipping half, into each of the cavities – don’t worry if it drains out a little into the tin.  Add a final sprinkle of salt over the skin. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or new potatoes, and some dark green vegetables like steamed spinach or even a raw watercress and radish salad.

Red Cabbage & Sweet Pomegranate Coleslaw

I fancied making something fresh this evening, to round the week off. Something that would go with steak, that isn’t starchy and doesn’t make you feel lethargic after eating. A coleslaw I thought would be suitably healthy, full of crunch and would wake up any hibernating tastebuds.

Ingredients
2 Pomegranates
1/2 red cabbage head
2 heads of baby gem lettuce
2 small shallots
Salt, Pepper and Sugar
2 tbsp fresh mayonaise
Juice of an orange
Parsley

Slice the red cabbage, lettuce and shallots as finely as possible and toss together in a bowl. Empty the shells of two pomegranates and tear up some fresh parsley.  Add the mayonaise, squeeze in the juice of an orange and coat the sliced vegetables well. Add a grind of pepper, pinch of salt and teaspoon of sugar for seasoning. Have a taste before you serve it – people’s opinion of seasoning can vary widely when it comes to something like coleslaw. Some like a peppery coleslaw, so go heavy on the parsley, onions and ground black pepper . Some prefer it creamier, in which case add more mayo. I prefer it sharp and tangy, so I am liberal with the shallots, orange and pomegranate seeds.

Coleslaw is something best served freshly made. Even after a few hours the ingredients in the dressing can pull out the water from the lettuce and cabbage and make them lose their crispness.

A different twist: if serving with lamb, add grated apple and exchange the parsley for mint. A different twist. ~

Chocolate Biscuit Bars

I believe this is my Grandmother’s take on tiffin:

Ingredients
225g (or about half a packet) broken digestive biscuits
100g sultanas or any dried fruit
50g butter
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
130g dark chocolate
Pieces of half an orange

This is all there is to making these sweet snack bars:

Melt the butter, syrup and chocolate over a bain-marie. Dark chocolate is best to counter the overall sweetness of the bars. If you want to make it interesting, splash a dash of rum! Add broken up biscuits and fruit. I added dates, raisins, apricots, cranberries and goji berries. Stir together and coat with the chocolate.

Pack into a lined tin (tin foil) and if you fancy, add the half orange pieces – pressing them into the top. Allow to chill and harden then turn out the slab and cut with a heavy knife into bars.