Thursday, 30 April 2009

Caramelised Brown Bread Ice Cream

I do not own an ice cream maker. Never have and don't plan to, because believe it or not you don't need one to make amazing rich gourmet-quality ice cream!

I am not exaggerating when I say this easy-no-churning-needed recipe is so creamy and smooth that people have asked if it's a new flavour by Haagen Dazs. They usually spend the next five minutes gaping in awe when I say not only is it not, but it isn't store-bought at all! They then assume I have some fancy machine or complex ingredients list, and by the time I've explained that I put it together in less than 20 minutes with nothing more than an electric whisk and some eggs, cream and icing sugar, I am some kind of otherworldly culinary goddess with magical powers in their eyes. I usually bask in this reverence for a while just for fun, but the truth is it is just so, so easy that no extraordinary skill is required.

An old-fashioned English flavour popular since 18th-century Victorian times, brown bread ice cream is rustic, nutty-tasting and satisfyingly delicious with a chewy caramel bite. Use interesting types of bread i.e. with seeds, nuts, oats and grains to give it a different flavour each time.

This ice cream base works for other flavours too- I've made a dark chocolate version by omitting the crumbs, adding cocoa powder with the icing sugar and folding some melted chocolate into the cream. Happy experimenting!

Crunchy Crumb Mixture:

2 slices brown bread or 2 brown rolls- whizz in food processor to make crumbs.
85g sugar (I use brown but white sugar works too)- combine with crumbs. Spread thinly on tin foil. Grill 15 mins at moderate heat, stirring constantly with a fork, until caramelised and crunchy.

Ice Cream:
2 egg whites- whisk until stiff in a large bowl (ensure your equipment is completely clean, dry and grease-free or the whites won't stiffen!)
2 egg yolks- combine with 1 tsp vanilla extract (NOT artificial flavouring, which has a far inferior taste). Fold into egg whites.

Whisk together until flopp
y (be careful not to overbeat until too stiff):
85g icing sugar, sifted
300ml double cream

Fold together double cream mix, egg white mix and crunchy crumb mix. Pour into container and freeze for at least 4 hours. Move to refrigerator for 20 mins before serving to soften slightly.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Warm Couscous Salad with Sausage & Smoked Bacon

Threw this together on a whim for dinner last night and it turned out surprisingly scrumptious! I've always been a rice lover but couscous makes for a nice change- light, flavourful golden grains that cook in minutes and can be tossed with anything.

As with any salad the possibilities are endless- I'd happily chuck in toasted pine nuts, fresh basil leaves (or any other herb you want), grilled sweet peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes... or for a greener meal try serving on a big bed of crisp salad leaves.

Place 400g couscous and 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs in a large bowl or pot.

Pour over boiling water until water level is about 1” above the surface. Cover and leave to absorb for 5-10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and set aside.

Finely chop and fry in a bit of oil until fragrant:
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic

2 dried chillies, crumbled
4 good quality sausages (I use a herby variety like Cumberland), snipped into small chunks
4 slices smoked bacon, cut into bits
Generous handful of Savoy/green cabbage, shredded thinly

Sauté until meat is browned and cabbage is slightly burnt on the edges.

Turn off the heat and toss in couscous until well combined. Season well with salt and black pepper and serve warm.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Sedap Malaysian & Chinese Cuisine

Following on from the declaration of love for Char Kuay Teow in my previous post, let me tell you about this.

Earlier this year, Arivind was on his way to work along Old Street when he made a truly fortunate discovery: a small little restaurant he hadn't noticed before, with a signboard that said Sedap ("delicious" in Malay).

Ultra excited, we had dinner there as fast as we could and loved it SO much that the first thing I did when I came home was write this rave review on Trusted Places. I wanted everyone to know about it, especially fellow Malaysian foodies like bellaphon who as I hoped then shared his own rave review, nicely making the effort to namecheck me in the process (thank you!).

A couple of months later, Arivind was there by himself for lunch when he casually asked the lady serving him how business was. To our surprise and delight, she replied that they had been getting many new customers who had apparently come after reading an online review by "this girl called Samantha Tan"! Upon discovering who he was ("oh you are Arivind ah!?"), she very excitedly ran to the kitchen to pull her Mum out (old Mrs Yeoh who does all the cooking), introduced them, gave him a discount on his bill, boxed several slices of free homemade kuih ubi kayu (traditional sticky tapioca cake) to take home and told him to please bring me the next time so they can meet and thank me.

Haha WOW, thank you Yeohs so glad to know I've been of help :) I actually haven't yet had the opportunity to go back, but will definitely do so soon. In the meantime, here's the original review reposted- might as well make full use of my new food blog! :)

Sedap Malaysian & Chinese Cuisine
102 Old Street, London EC1V 9AY
0207 4900 200 3rd February 2009

From the people behind "Nonya" in Notting Hill (now closed) comes this great new gem on Old Street, serving amazingly authentic Penang Chinese hawker-style cuisine executed to perfection!

Char Kuay Teow (£6.95) was absolutely divine, complete with yummy slices of lap cheong (Chinese pork sausage)- "the BEST Char Kuay Teow in London" according to my partner, and we have eaten a LOT of this dish in many many places!

Hainanese Chicken Rice (£7), one of my favourite foods since I was a child was also gorgeous, a big generous portion of succulent poached chicken alongside fragrant flavoursome rice. Pity it didn't come with any broth, but that's a minor quibble seeing as the dish was delicious.

We loved the Nasi Lemak (£7.40) too, which was typical Penang Chinese style (sweeter, less spicy sambal) served with a tasty chicken curry and, more unusually, a piece of deep fried mackerel in place of traditional "ikan bilis". We didn't mind the missing crispy anchovies though, as the mackerel complemented the rice very well!

And last but not least, the yummy beef rendang (£6.90) was so tender it practically melted in your mouth, and again spot-on Penang style.

Portions are the average size you would find in Malaysia, i.e. not a humongous American serving but satisfying enough. Price wise it is slightly more expensive than Malaysia Kopitiam and C&R in Chinatown, but we found it worth every penny for the great meal we had.

For those working in the area, they do a good lunch deal for £5.65 where you get a starter, any meat dish (including the rendang!) and rice or noodles. We were told by the owners that we could have Char Kuay Teow as the noodle option, however later visits with different staff serving us have shown this is not true so I would recommend sticking to hawker-style mains, as that is where they truly shine.

All in all, this is a perfect example of the Penang Chinese hawker section of Malaysian cuisine. From peeking into the kitchen I saw that most of the chefs were Malaysian Chinese old ladies chatting away in Hokkien, which to me is always a good sign! :)

We left with a takeaway of Malaysian Fried Rice for tomorrow,
from the smell and the little nibble we sneaked (couldn't resist!) we'd recommend it too!

Mini Chocolate Meringues

Crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside, these mini meringues are highly addictive, deceptively easy and cost almost nothing to make. Careful you don't scoff all of them in one go :)

* Ensure all equipment is dry and oil-free. Makes 20-30 pieces*

Whisk with an eletric mixer on low speed for 1 minute, then medium for 2-3 mins:
3 large egg whites
Pinch of salt

Add 175g sugar very gradually while continuing to whisk (this will take about 5 minutes) until glossy.

Lightly swirl in 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 40g grated dark chocolate (optional).

Drop tablespoonfuls (or teaspoonfuls if you want tiny ones) onto a lined baking sheet.

Bake at 140 C for 40 minutes and let cool in the oven with the door ajar. Devour! :)

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Ta Daa! :)

Thanks to an unexpected surge in the amount of free meals I've scored lately in response to restaurant reviews I've written, my recent successful attempts to home-cook hawker food, the many cheesecakes and various baked goods I have sold/ used for barter/ given as gifts over time, constant requests from friends and family for tried-and-tested recipes and just the fact that I love love LOVE food with an all-consuming passion, I have now, after months of mulling over the idea, finally started a food blog! :)

So welcome! Happy reading, happy cooking, happy sharing and may the devotion to all things delicious unite us all!