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Nigel Slater’s recipes for ice-cream and granita | Life and style

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Given time, I will make my summer ice-cream of choice, fashioned from a true custard, with eggs and cream and fat vanilla pods, and churn it slowly until it is just shy of frozen. On other occasions I might roast figs and add them to a walnut and honey ice-cream to serve with a glass of grappa; or bake bananas and stir them into thick yogurt to freeze.

But if I am away from home, armed with a less-than-ideal kitchen, I am up for something simpler: a granita or perhaps a tarted-up tub of commercial ice-cream.

I might gather everyone round the table to top and tail some blackcurrants, then bring the berries to the boil with sugar and a little water, and ripple them through good vanilla ice-cream from a tub. We could add crushed walnuts toasted with a little honey, or some biscuit crumbs or sugar-encrusted trifle sponges. Then again, I might chop up some interesting chocolate – say roasted hazelnut or mint – to embellish a tub of basic vanilla. The crisp nuggets of chocolate turn it into a sort of instant stracciatella – one of the very best but often most difficult ices to track down.

Granitas are straightforward; just remember to beat them with a fork every now and again as they freeze so that they become crystalline rather than freeze into a giant lollipop. And I’m not sure I’d say no to an updated banana split, served with fresh cherries tumbling down the mountain of bananas and whipped cream.

Watermelon granita

Refreshing, quick and simple. Serves 6

caster sugar 4 tbsp
water 4 tbsp
watermelon 1.5kg

Make a sugar syrup by bringing the caster sugar and water to the boil in a small pan. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. You can speed the process up by lowering the saucepan into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes.

Remove the rind from the watermelon and discard. You will end up with about 1 kg of flesh. Roughly chop the watermelon, then process to a thick slush in a blender or food processor.

Stir the sugar syrup into the crushed watermelon, then pour into a stainless steel or rigid plastic freezer box and freeze for an hour. Using a fork, gently bring the crystals of frozen mixture that lie around the edges into the middle, then return it to the freezer.

Do not let the granita freeze into one vast ice cube. Instead, encourage the crystallisation by regular, gentle mixing. Continue gently stirring the frozen crystals into the scarlet liquid every hour, until the granita is entirely, but lightly, frozen into millions of tiny crystals. It should take about 4 or 5 hours.

Roast banana frozen yogurt

The easiest of ices to make and for which no machine is needed.

Makes 1 litre, serves 8 or more

bananas 850g (5 medium)
soft brown sugar 3 tbsp
yogurt 500ml, natural, thick

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Peel the bananas and put them in a roasting tin. Sprinkle the sugar over them, then bake for 25 minutes until soft and the sugar is golden and syrupy. Remove the bananas from the oven, crush thoroughly with a fork or purée in a food processor. Allow to cool.

Add dollops of whipped cream on top of the bananas, then trickle them with the melted dark chocolate. When the bananas are cool, fold in the yogurt, mixing thoroughly, then spoon into a freezer box and freeze for 3 hours. The ice is at its best when not frozen solid. (If that should happen, or you want to make it the day before, remove it from the freezer half an hour before serving.)

Banana, cherry and chocolate sundae

Serves 4

frozen yogurt see previous page for recipe
dark chocolate 100g
double cream 250ml
bananas 4, ripe
cherries 24, plus a few more for decoration
walnuts to serve

Take the yogurt from the freezer a good half-hour before you need it. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof mixing bowl. Balance the bowl over a small pan of simmering water and leave to melt. Don’t stir.

Whip the cream until thick, taking care not to whisk for too long. It should be soft enough to hold a shape on the spoon, but not stiff enough to stand in peaks. Halve the cherries and discard the stones. Peel the bananas, cut them in half lengthways, and divide between 4 shallow dishes.

Place spoonfuls of frozen yogurt in between the bananas. Add dollops of whipped cream on top, then trickle with the melted chocolate. Scatter over the walnuts and cherries, and serve.

Blackcurrant and biscuit-crumb ice-cream

Crumbs: blackcurrant and biscuit-crumb ice-cream.
Crumbs: blackcurrant and biscuit-crumb ice-cream. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

You can also use trifle sponges or crumbled plain digestives. Serves 8

blackcurrants 450g, fresh or frozen
sugar 3 tbsp
water 4 tbsp
sponge fingers 50g
vanilla ice-cream 1 litre

You will also need a high-sided freezer box approximately 22cm long and 20cm wide.

Pull the currants from their stalks and put them in a small pan with the sugar and water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and leave for 2 or 3 minutes until the berries burst and the sugar melts. Leave to cool.

Put the sponge fingers in the bowl of a food processor and reduce to coarse crumbs – or crumble by hand. Let the ice-cream soften slightly, then put it in a freezer box. Spoon in the currants and their syrup and swirl them through the ice-cream with a spoon. Scatter the crumbs over, cover and freeze for 2 hours before serving.

Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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Easy and healthy school lunch recipes

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There may be a lot of balls to juggle when it’s time for the kids to return to school (even if they’re learning remotely), but don’t make lunch one of them.

Having a few go-to ideas for lunch recipes will make school days easier, whether they’re at spent at home or in the classroom.

Healthy lunch box recipes may feel challenging, but there are so many unique tricks and swaps to ensure kids have fun with their food and, more importantly, eat all of it. From classic lunch time staples like PB&J or deli sandwiches to nutritious sides and make-ahead mains, here are some TODAY Food’s favorite kid-friendly lunches.

Fun spins on sandwiches

PB&J Sushi Sandwiches

Popsugar Food

Serve the kids a lunchtime staple with an inventive twist. By rolling the bread flat, this PB&J sandwich transforms into sushi rolls that are fun to eat with a fork and knife or chopsticks.

Mini Monster Sandwiches

Popsugar Food

Halloween will be here before you know it so why not give a ham and cheese sandwich a spooky makeover with olive eyes? It only takes a few minutes to cut out shapes in the cheese and bread for a totally silly creation kids will enjoy gobbling up.

I Heart Panini

Popsugar Food

The contents of this grilled panini can be swapped with whatever kind of cheese or deli meat you have on hand. The sweetest part? This dish is shaped like a heart.

Message in a Bottle Sandwich

Popsugar Food

Grab some cookie cutter letters and carve out love notes to little (or big) kids. Whether you write, “Good luck on the exam,” or “I love you to the moon and back,” it’s easy to feel appreciated when mom or dad sends a personal note. When looking for ways to avoid allergens like peanuts, swap the nut butter for cafeteria-friendly sunflower seed butter.

Sunflower Butter & Grape Sandwich

Frances Largeman-Roth

So many kids love PB&Js, but sometimes the sugar content of the jam and the need for an alternative to peanut butter (many districts don’t allow peanut products these days) call for a different kind of sandwich. Nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth swaps high-fructose jelly for freshly sliced grapes and uses sunflower butter.

Minion Bento Sandwich

Popsugar Food

These Minion characters look like a pastry chef’s work of art, but all parents really need to master this sandwich design are orange and yellow cheese, some nori wrappers and kitchen shears. Decorating the Minions with different facial expressions is also a fun activity for kids to do if they’re at home and can help make lunch themselves.

Easy entrées for kids

Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders

Frances Largeman-Roth

Rather than heating up frozen nuggets or deep frying fingers, simulate the crunch of classic chicken fingers with this oven-baked recipe. Make it ahead of time and serve cold or give them a quick reheat in the oven or microwave.

Healthy English Muffin Pizza

Frances Largeman-Roth

We gave this kid classic a makeover that still hits all the flavor marks and is super easy for parents (or older kids) to make. Instead of using pepperoni made with beef and pork, use turkey pepperoni, which has fewer calories and less fat. Feel free to top the mini pizzas with whatever colorful veggies your kids will enjoy.

Kid-Friendly Rainbow Pasta Salad

Frances Largeman-Roth

Boost the nutrition value of pasta salad by using one made with chickpeas and then speckle it with colorful veggies. For an extra boost of protein, try adding canned tuna or diced leftover chicken.

 Mini-Corn and Ham Frittatas

Megan O. Steintrager / TODAY

Frittatas are an all-in-one, fuss-free meal to enjoy anytime of day. This recipe is packed with veggies and gets plenty of protein from the eggs and ham. You can make it ahead of time and freeze a big batch to defrost later in the week.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Empanadas

Nathan Congleton/NBC / TODAY

Empanadas typically contain a mixture of meats and potatoes, but this version has a sweeter side. Bake the PB&J empanadas in advance to pack in lunch bags throughout the week, or serve them warm out of the oven as an after school snack. You may want to double the recipe because this one is a hit with both kids and grown-ups.

Simple sides for a healthy lunchbox

Broccomole Dip

Lucy Schaeffer Photography

Holy broccomole! This is one delicious dip that’s packed with vitamins and minerals. If your little ones like avocado, then they will flip for this joyful rendition from Joy Bauer that’s made with one sneaky ingredient: broccoli. There are simple tricks to keeping guacamole fresh and green until lunch time, so try them out with this recipe.

Gridiron Green Goddess Dip

Frances Largeman-Roth / TODAY

Accompany sandwiches or any main proteins for school lunch with some colorful veggies. Kids may be more inclined to devour some carrots, snap peas or radishes if there’s a tasty dip. This take on Green Goddess dressing seasons protein-packed Greek yogurt and cottage cheeses to get a pop of flavor tots of all ages will enjoy.

Siri's Cacao Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Tyler Essary/TODAY

Pop some dessert into the lunchbox that will provide an energy boost rather than a sugar high. These quick, no-bake bites are sweetened with dates, maple syrup and cocoa for a rich flavor that will make it easy devour to satiating protein and healthy seeds.

Joy Bauer's Broccoli Tots

Shutterstock

Say goodbye to bags of freezer-burned tater tots. This homemade version is easy and delicious. By replacing the potato with broccoli, Joy Bauer cuts back on carbs and calories without sacrificing texture and flavor. Five large tots contain only 100 calories and make for a crispy, flavorful side dish.

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Parts unknown: whole animal recipes from Feather and Bone | Meat

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Traditional whole-animal butcheries have become a rarity in many developed countries.

The overwhelming majority of domestic and export meat in Australia is traded through the commodity meat market. Much of the meat produced for this market will be sourced from farms that are organised around the primary goal of maximising turnover of animals. As a system that rewards volume and speed, it works brilliantly.

But if you’re a farmer or butcher or consumer interested in other dimensions of value, such as traceable animal and environmental welfare standards, then it will come up short. This is because when a farmer sells into the mainstream commodity market, their animals disappear into a generic product pool.

Filled with crusading zeal for a better food model, we decided that our commitment to transparency and a whole-animal practice meant two things. First, we would seek out diverse breeds of animals grown on farms managed with the goal of improving the entire ecosystem. Second, we wouldn’t buy boxed meat from a wholesaler, but instead would always buy meat on the bone direct from the farmer, offal and all.

Of course, if your business is built around buying the whole animal, then you also have to sell it, which can be challenging. Many of us have lost the traditional skills that allowed us to prepare and consume the whole animal. Eating offal was something quaint our grandparents did, and these days we spend more time watching cooking shows than we actually do preparing food. All of this means we default to the cuts we know how to cook, and we’re less likely to choose the unfamiliar ones.

Change is hard and change is slow but from little things big things grow.

Tammi’s crispy slow cooked pig’s ear banh mi

Feeds: 4-6
Active prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Chill: Up to 24 hours

“When we first started selling our pastured pork, I had only been eating meat for about seven years, after a decade of vegetarianism, and was determined to make use of every part of the animals we raise with such care. And so my crispy pig’s ear banh mi was born, of necessity and respect, inspired by regular visits to Vietnam over the years. Banh mi are best when there is a balance of fat, fresh, sweet, sour, salt and spice, all wrapped up in a crispy baguette with a soft centre. These crispy pig’s ear banh mi capture that formula perfectly, and also leave room for everyone at the table to self-determine their own ratios of each constituent flavour.”

Tammi Jonas, producer and activist

For the pigs’ ears
4 pasture-raised pigs’ ears
1 leek,
coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves,
lightly crushed, still in skin
50g palm sugar
300ml pasture-raised pork bone broth or chicken stock
200ml Shaoxing rice wine
200ml soy sauce
6 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 eggs
Plain (all-purpose) flour,
for dusting
60g panko breadcrumbs
Lard or rendered animal fat
, for deep-frying

For the banh mi
4-6 fried eggs
Freshly made mayonnaise or aioli
, to serve
40g lightly pickled carrot

2 cucumbers, cut into batons
Long red chilli, coarsely chopped, to taste
Coriander leaves, to serve
Fish sauce, to serve
Crusty baguette or white rolls, to serve

Start this recipe one or two days ahead. Preheat oven to 120C (235F). Place pigs’ ears in an ovenproof dish with leek, garlic, sugar, broth or stock, Shaoxing, soy sauce and spices. Cover with baking paper, seal tightly with foil, and braise for about eight hours, or overnight, until very tender.

Place ears on a cooling rack in the fridge to dry out for up to one day. Slice ears into thin strips. Beat eggs in a wide bowl and place flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Dust pigs’ ears in flour, shaking off excess, dip in egg, then coat in breadcrumbs. Melt 5cm fat in a deep, heavy-based saucepan until shimmering, then deep-fry ears for two to three minutes until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack.

Serve pigs’ ears in baguettes or rolls, and offer fried eggs, mayonnaise, pickled carrot, cucumber, chilli, coriander and fish sauce for people to fill as they like. Voila – a crunchy, salty, sweet, sour, spicy banh mi made with a part of the pig most people wouldn’t know what to do with. Uncommonly delicious.

Christopher’s seared liver with tomatoes and caramelised onions

Feeds: 2-4, depending on the size of the liver
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

Christopher’s seared liver
Photograph: Alan Benson

“I’m an artist, but my father was a butcher, and we had a nice little herd of Black Angus for a while. My first cooking job was to make the Saturday morning butcher’s breakfast, before I did the deliveries. So I used whatever morsels were around – liver, ends of bacon, kidneys, little lamb chops – fried them up in an old electric frying pan, then served them on a slab of thickly buttered bread. It was a tough gig, as butchers don’t like their meat ruined, so timing was everything. I love good fresh liver, served medium–rare, with jammy onion and pan-roasted tomatoes. Sear the liver at the last minute while the sourdough bread is toasting.”

– Christopher Hodges, Feather and Bone customer

40g butter, plus extra for spreading
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 brown onions (1 per person)
, diced
250g cherry tomatoes
, halved
1 lamb, goat or calf (veal) liver
, rinsed, membrane removed, sliced into 1.5cm strips
1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
, chopped
2-4 slices sourdough bread

Add a generous knob of butter to a frying pan over medium-high heat. Swirl for two to three minutes until lightly browned, then add a good dash of olive oil. Add onion and a large pinch of salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring gently, for 15-20 minutes. The onion will slowly turn golden, then brown, sweet and yummy.

Meanwhile, heat a separate frying pan over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes – they’ll sizzle as they hit the pan – then add a bit more butter, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook, turning once, for five minutes or until lightly browned and juicy.

Drizzle liver all over with remaining olive oil. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat, add liver and sear it quickly, without turning, for one minute until sealed and caramelised a little, then turn it quickly and sear for another minute until nicely browned but still rare in the middle. Transfer to a plate, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and top with parsley, then cover with an upturned bowl or a lid – it will keep cooking so by the time you serve it will be cooked through but still pink in the middle.

Meanwhile, toast sourdough in a toaster. Butter toast, and top with onions, tomatoes and liver to serve.

Norman’s lamb tongue with numbing chilli and tahini sauce

Feeds: 4-6 as a shared entrée
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours (five minutes with pressure cooker)
Special equipment: Pressure cooker (optional)

Norman’s lamb tongue with numbing chilli and tahini sauce
Photograph: Alan Benson

“This recipe is from northern China, where middle Asian and Arabian influences blend with the complex beauty of Sichuan cooking to shine brightly. It often uses sliced pork belly but I think lamb tongue, with its tender buttery texture, is much more luxurious. This recipe is also a good way to use up any leftover roast lamb.”

– Norman Lee, Feather and Bone customer

For the tongue
500g lamb’s tongues
2 small star anise
2 cloves
½ cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Coarsely chopped coriander leaves
, to serve
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Numbing chilli-oil vinaigrette
25g crushed Sichuan peppercorns
100 ml sunflower oil
2 tablespoons black (Chinkiang) vinegar
1 tablespoon chilli oil (I use Lao Gan Ma brand)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Tahini sauce
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon light soy sauce

If you have a pressure cooker, fill it with the minimum amount of water, then add tongues, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, bay leaves and one teaspoon of salt. Heat until it comes to full pressure, cook for five minutes, allow to cool, then drain.

Alternatively, add tongues, spices, bay leaves and salt to a large saucepan, add enough water just to cover, bring to the boil, skim surface, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for two hours or until just tender – a skewer should pass through with only a little resistance.

Rest the tongues until they’re cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin with a small knife while they are still warm. Slice tongues thinly lengthwise – you should get about four slices per tongue.

Meanwhile, to make vinaigrette, warm crushed Sichuan pepper in oil in a small saucepan over low heat for three to five minutes or until fragrant – be careful, it can burn quickly. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes to extract all the fragrance. Strain, discarding Sichuan pepper, and combine oil with remaining ingredients.

The Ethical Omnivore cover

Whisk all tahini sauce ingredients with three tablespoons of warm water until smooth and silky. Add more water if needed; sauce should be a pouring consistency. Season to taste with salt.

For a cold summer dish, arrange tongue on a plate. (For a warm dish, heat oil in a frying pan over medium–high heat, add tongues, and cook, turning halfway, for three to five minutes until crisp and golden.)

To serve, spoon the tahini sauce over. Splash on the chilli-oil vinaigrette, pile chopped coriander in the middle, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Toss at the table and serve.

  • This is an edited extract from The Ethical Omnivore by Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for aubergine with tomatoes | Food

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Even though, in these everything-always times, they never actually went away, it is not unreasonable to say that aubergines are back for the summer. Front row, heaped high, two euros a kilo: thank you very much.

Melanzana nera, the black beauty: some round, others like big tears with elfin hats. Melanzana violetta lunga: as slim as a carrot, as long as a cucumber and inky purple-black. Melanzana tonda viola with its grapefruit proportions and the colour of amethyst. Melanzana zebrina viola: streaked white and violet, like the inside cover of a fancy book. What an enviably striking bunch; and members of the deadly nightshade family – no wonder some were distrustful when this exquisite vegetable, believed to have originated in India and been brought to Europe by the Arabs, was first cultivated in Sicily and Spain. For some, that distrust and diffidence persisted for centuries. Pianta volgare (“vulgar plant”) was how the naturalist Pietro Andrea Mattioli referred to aubergine in 1568, on observing its frequent use by the volgo, or common people, who ate it “fried in oil, with salt and pepper, like mushrooms”.

Aubergines are the ants of the vegetable world, their ability much greater than their size. Rather than lifting, though, the aubergine absorbs – up to four times its own weight in liquid – soaking and sopping up whatever it is (oil, sauce, stock, like a sponge. Until it becomes the camel, when heat and salt breaks it. This reverses the process and it expels its own liquid, which evaporates, intensifying flavour and turning the aubergine from a foam mattress to a fat and silky one.

It is the ant and the camel aspects of aubergine that we want to harness in this recipe for aubergines cooked al funghetto. It’s a Neapolitan recipe, the name of which refers to the diced aubergine both looking and being cooked like mushrooms. Cubes of aubergine absorb olive oil with a deep or shallow fry, but then the heat, salt and stirring help to expel the liquid. Like a pushy parent, the cook then adds more liquid in the form of tomato juices, and the aubergine releases more combined juices back into a sauce, which thickens and clings. It is a claustrophobic circle that one friend refers to as “a pass the parcel of flavours”.

This circle is a reminder that, in cooking vegetables, so much depends on how we manage the water content of the veg in question. Talking of water, you don’t need to do a preliminary salt for this recipe, unless they are bitter (taste and see), in which case an hour sprinkled with coarse salt is worthwhile.

The aubergine skin seems even blacker after cooking and glints like squares of tourmaline, with its fringe of oil, in the red slump of tomatoes. We eat melanzane al funghetto with lumps of salted ricotta or feta, pan-melted cheese such as scamorza, provola or halloumi, or with boiled potatoes. It is also a dish unto itself, needing only bread in order that the thick, oily juices, which have already been soaked up and released, can be soaked up once more, by us. After all, we are all sponges.

Aubergine with tomatoes – melanzane al funghetto

Serves 4
1-1.2 kg aubergines
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves
400g cherry tomatoes
, quartered
Salt
1 tbsp capers
1 small handful basil

Cut the aubergines into 1.5cm dice and squeeze them dry with kitchen towel.

In a large, deep frying pan set over a medium flame, warm six tablespoons of olive oil until hot, then add the aubergine cubes and fry, moving them constantly with a wooden spoon, until soft and golden. Tip on to a plate.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in the same pan, add the garlic – crushed for a milder flavour, sliced for a stronger one, chopped for the strongest – and fry until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, then cook over a lively heat for five minutes.

Add the capers, then stir in the aubergine and cook for another 10 minutes, adding the basil in the last minutes of cooking.

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