A hot day…

On a hot day like today, I thought I would blog about ice cream.

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The dude is a massive fan of ice cream. He always tells the childhood story of how his grandfather used to take him to the freezer after dinner and would always gives him a scoop of cold creamy vanilla ice cream. That’s his reason for being hooked on this dessert.

We were on our honeymoon in Granada when we found this amazing heladeria (aka gelato shop) called Los Italianos.

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Typically in an ice-creamery, you would be able to view the colour/ toppings of the selection but at Los Italianos, you get a list of flavours (in spanish of course) on the wall alongside piled up cones. All the ice cream is tucked away so you can’t exactly drool over what you see. You order your flavours from the servers and then pay a different lady who just sits by the till.

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My favourite flavour is pistachio and I reckon I tasted my favourite so far.
If you ever get to Granada, I recommend a visit(or more) to Los Italianos. This is definitely one of the best ice creameries I have ever been to.

Will you be getting an ice cream or gelato today? What’s your favourite flavour?

Los Italianos
Address: Calle Gran Vía de Colón, 4 18001 Granada Spain‎

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The marriage between strawberries & rhubarb

Rhubarb and strawberries are currently in season thus when I found that the rhubarb is half price at my usual supermarket, I decided to get them and make a compote.

This strawberry and rhubarb compote recipe came from one of my favourite pastry chef, David Lebovitz. This is so easy to make and extremely delicious! I have had them over home made granola, frozen yoghurt and vanilla ice-cream. It just taste SO good. Shuhan from mummy i can cook made this jasmine rice pudding with poached rhubarb and I am sure this compote will go just as well with the jasmine rice pudding!

Strawberries & Rhubarb Compote (adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe)
(the quantity below is adapted to suit store bought amounts and it makes about 6-8 servings)

155ml water
155ml ml unsweetened apple juice
5 sliced fresh ginger
50g sugar
50g – 80g honey (adapt to suit your sweet tooth!)
500g rhubarb, trimmed and cut
250 – 300g strawberries, hulled and quartered

First, heat the water, apple juice, ginger, sugar, and honey in a non reactive sauce pan.
When the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is simmering, add the rhubarb and cook until soft (not too soft though!). This may take about 5 minutes, depending on the rhubarb & your preferred texture. Remove from heat and add the prepared strawberries.
When cool, you can remove the ginger slices.

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ENJOY!

Chocolate bottom meringues with fresh berries…

I recently offered to whip up a dessert for a friend’s dinner party.  I wanted to cook something that reflected the warm weather we’re having in Melbourne, plus took advantage of the beautiful berries that are in season.  After a little brainstorm I decided upon one of Donna Hay’s recipes for meringues dipped in chocolate and stacked with whipped cream and fresh berries.  It was a super easy recipe which is great for the coming summer months.

Ingredients:

150 ml eggwhite (approximately 4 eggs)
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
2 tablespoons of cornflour, sifted
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
100 g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
1 cup (250 ml) of single pouring cream
400 g of mixed raspberries and strawberries
Icing sugar to dust

Method:

Preheat oven to 150°C.  Place the eggwhite in a clean bowl and mix with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Ensure the bowl is 100% clean as if it’s greasy, the eggs wont whip.  If in doubt, wash it twice!

Slowly add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.  Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined.

Spoon ½ cupfuls of the mixture onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper.  Immediately reduce oven to 120°C  and bake for 1 hour.

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Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven (allow a few hours).  Do not be impatient and take the meringues out of the oven while they are still warm as the sudden drop in temperature will cause them to collapse.  If time is on your side, it’s a good idea to make the meringues the night before and leave them in the oven overnight to cool.

Once the meringues are cool, dip the bases of them in melted chocolate, place on non-stick baking paper and set aside for the chocolate to set.

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Whisk the cream until soft peaks form.  Spoon over the meringues, top with berries and dust with icing sugar.  Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Are you scared?

It’s nearly Halloween! Celebrations are well under way as a few of my friends are dressing up for some parties this weekend. Just a couple of days ago, I was invited to Creepycakes event organised by Google+ Local. The event was described as ‘spooky high tea with a halloween twist‘.

As I love to bake, I was very excited to see what was in store for us. In my head, I envisaged spiders, pumpkins, witches hats… but when we got to Google Headquarters, the first thing I saw was ‘smoked cigarettes’ in an ashtray. They looked so real but I had a bite and it was actually cake!

Miss Cakehead was the brains behind the horrifying treats presented to us. It was a sneak preview to EAT YOUR HEART OUT – which is happening this weekend October 26-28th at St Bart’s Pathology Museum.

What followed were tastings of these ‘bad-taste cakes’ and we were in awe of the variety of gruesome baking.

It was a great evening where we devoured ‘phlegm’ (aka clotted cream) and ‘scab’ scones and even a ‘brain’ made out of marshmallow.

For those who are looking for some inspiration this halloween weekend, why not pop down to EAT YOUR HEART OUT and check out these amazing baked goods… You might not be able to differentiate between the real and the imitation! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

St Bart’s Pathology Museum
3rd Floor Robin Brook Centre
St Bart’s Hospital
West Smithfield
London
EC1A 7BE

Sunny Lemon Drizzle Cake

The sun’s rays streamed through the window of our living room and I stretched out on the couch like a cat, contemplating what I would do for the next couple of hours.  It was Sunday afternoon and we weren’t due at a friend’s house for dinner for a few hours.  I had two hours up my sleeve to kill.  I pondered what to do… Online shopping?  Nope.  Organise upcoming holiday?  Nah.  Bake?  Yes, BAKE!  I would bake a cake to take as dessert.  The sun must have gone to my head as the only cake I could imagine baking was… Sunny Lemon Drizzle Cake.

I picked up this fabulous recipe a few months back at Cookery School.  It’s super easy, can be whipped up quickly, and tastes fantastic.  It’s a light and delicate cake, and with the addition of the citrus lemon drizzle, it’s beautifully moist.

Here’s the recipe… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Ingredients
Cake:
2 large or 3 small eggs
4 ozs butter
6 ozs sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
6 ozs flour
Rind of 1 lemon grated
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons of milk

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method:

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and continue to mix well.

Then add the lemon rind and juice.

Lightly fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Gently mix in the milk.

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes at 1700C or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven.

While still hot, prick cake well with a skewer (I used a strand of uncooked spaghetti, because couldn’t find the skewer!).

Pour over the lemon syrup made from melting the icing sugar with the lemon juice over the stove.

Leave until fully cold before removing from tin.

It’s the perfect cake to have in the afternoon with your feet up and a cup of tea.  If having it for dessert (as we did), team with a dollop of yoghurt or a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream.

Infusion of rosewater

On our previous trip to Paris, we found this little cafe near Montmartre and stopped for a coffee as we needed a break from the freezing cold. For those who know me, I have a weakness for pistachios. Pistachio ice-cream, pistachio macaroons, pistachio biccies… My eyes would never let me veer away from pistachio once it catches my eye on the dessert counter. This time, it was a pistachio and rosewater cake. Mmmm… Quite an interesting combination and one that I have never come across. I did have a moment of doubt – Rosewater reminded me of this pastel pink drink back in Asia called Bandung. I never liked that sweet and fake coloured drink BUT as you know, my pistachio love took over and I HAD to try the cake.

The next thing you know, the dude and I were vying for the last crumbs of this moist and fragrant cake. The combination of flavours was perfect. We were in love.

It was decided that we had to make this cake in London. We thought it would be hard to find rosewater but it was easily found at a local offy (off-license). This recipe was found on the internet and the cake was a huge success. Terribly easy to make and delicious to taste! A must-try!

Recipe:
Lime Yoghurt Cake with Rosewater and Pistachios
(adapted from a recipe by Rachel Allen)

For the cake
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
75g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 generous tbsp or 50g runny honey
250ml natural yoghurt
150ml sunflower/ vegetable oil
finely grated zest from 1 lime

For the syrup
150ml water
100g caster sugar
Juice from 1 lime
1 tsp rose water

To start, preheat the oven to 180 deg celsius. Line the base of a 22cm spring-form/ loose-bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper. (We used just a 22cm cake tin)
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and stir in the ground almonds and caster sugar.
Then mix the wet ingredient together – eggs, honey, yoghurt, sunflower oil and lime zest together in a medium sized bowl until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, bringing them together with a whisk until they are just combined. Add some chopped pistachios to the mixture if you like some additional texture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 20mins.

To make the syrup, boil the water and sugar for about 5 minutes until it is reduced by half. Add the lime juice and boil for a further 2 minutes, then cool. Add rose water to taste. (Note: rosewater is quite strong so just start off with about 1 teaspoon).

With a fine skewer, make holes on top of the warm cake and spoon the syrup all over the top. Scatter the pistachios over and leave to settle for 1 hour (i.e. if you can wait!)

Serve with cream, natural yoghurt and even berries. It is quite a moist cake and keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Side note*: Toast the pistachios before hand for a crunch in the nuts!

A vegetable beginning…

My first carrot cake experience was back in Melbourne many, many years ago.  It was dry, tasteless and uninspiring and left me thinking why anyone would ever make cake with a vegetable.  Fast forward a decade and my carrot cake obsession was ignited by a double layered carrot cake purchased from Wholefoods.  It was purchased for a friend’s birthday and I’m not lying when I say the entire thing was eaten in one sitting (oh, and it was the large sized cake – of course).  We all had a first piece, then a second, and then it was just a case of ‘neatening up the edges’ as we shaved slithers off all sides of the cake.  All of a sudden it was gone.  MagicThree girls, one cake, guilty faces.

Since then, my friend, Zoe and I have been on a carrot cake quest sampling cakes in cafes, bakeries and restaurants wherever we can.  Relentless research awards equal first place to:  Wholefoods (I’ve sampled it many times since that birthday) and the famous Hummingbird Bakery (the cake, not the cupcakes).  Both cakes exhibit the essential feature of a double layer with a smattering of cream cheese icing between.  Critical in keeping the cake moist.  Having a high spice and nut factor is equally important.  A cake without cloves, nutmeg and walnuts is a cake not worth eating.

Last week, Wendy and I decided to do a combination of recipes to create the ultimate carrot cake for my lucky brother’s birthday. (Oooh, the possible disaster of combining!!!) We adapted David Lebovitz’s carrot cake recipe and combined it with Jamie Oliver’s lime mascarpone icing. Contrary to the possible disaster, the nutmeg and clove flavours of the cake bonded well with the tangy lime mascarpone icing, topped with walnuts to finish off.

All of us had one slice each. ONE. That’s a far cry from my Wholefoods-entire-cake-between-three-girls experience a few years ago.  And the best bit was, the cake tasted even better the next day, as the nutmeg and clove flavours developed in the fridge overnight.

You can find David Lebovitz’s carrot cake recipe here and for Jamie Oliver’s, here.  Let us know what you think, if you dare try out this combination! In hindsight, I possibly might add some nuts into the carrot cake recipe.