Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Lemon Icecream with Strawberries and Raspberries

I've been thinking of making something like this for a while now, but somehow never got around to it. I find I have far more recipes lingering in my head than I'll ever have time to cook, or people to cook for. A friend of mine is having us over for dinner tommorrow night though, and I offered to cook dessert. He's making pea and mint soup to start with, and then (weather dependent) some home made burgers and wedges, so this throwback to british childhood birthday parties seemed perfect, plus it fits in nicely with the fact that I'll be running around like a maniac tommorrow and so need something do-ahead.

Lemon Icecream

My icecream maker is out of action at the moment, so instead of a usual custard base icecream I made a pate a bombe with lightly whipped cream folded in. Pate a bombe is egg yolks whipped until they are light and frothy, and tripled in volume, with a hot sugar syrup beaten in so that the yolks cook. The heat of the sugar syrup cooks the egg yolks, while also trapping the air. Into this is then folded lightly whipped cream. As both of these mixtures contain a lot of air the resulting icecream acheives a lightness without the constant stirring a usual custard requires.

100g of sugar
50ml of water
250ml of double cream
6 egg yolks
zest of 3 lemons

Whisk the egg yolks until light and fluffy and at least tripled in volume. Meanwhile heat the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches the boil. At this point pour it slowly into the egg yolks, continuing to whisk the mixture all the while, and keep whisking until it is cool.

Whip the cream lightly, and zest the lemons. Fold the zest and cream into the egg yolk mixture. Put in a covered container in the freezer overnight, folding occasionally. To serve, slightly thaw the icecream in the refridgerator for 20 minutes before serving.

I usually like to drizzle a little triple sec over strawberries before serving them, but with this icecream they really don't need it. A little lemon zest and sugar is perfect.

Madelines with Cherries

These are inspired by Clafoutis, with a cherry imbedded in each tiny madeline, the stalk poking out as a handle ready to pop each one into your mouth.

I love madelines simple and plain, but a little fruit complements the light cake wonderfully, and, with the almonds, cherries are an easy choice. I played with a Gordon Ramsey recipe for madelines from his Just Desserts cookbook, increasing the ground almonds, reducing the flour, and using a little vanilla to flavour rather than the lemon zest he suggests. if you wanted to make them more dessert like, then we all agreed that a dash of kirsh in the madeline batter would go a long way.

Just warm from the oven these made scrumptious little bites.

75g of unsalted butter
80g of sugar
3 medium eggs
60g of ground almonds
60g of plain flour
a few drops of vanilla extract

Heat the butter in a little pan over a low heat until the solids seperate and then brown. Strain the butter to remove the browned solids, and set aside to cool. In another bowl whisk the sugar with the eggs until they are light in colour, and leave a trail when drizzled over the surface of the mixture. An electric beater is a godsend for this job. If you don't have one don't be tempted to give up at an early stage as this is what gives the madelines their lightness. Fold the flour and almonds gently into the egg mixture, being very careful not to knock out the air. Lastly fold in the cooled, but still runny, butter. Leave to sit for two hours. Meanwhile heat the oven to 190oc, and butter the madeline moulds. I used half the mixture to make plain madelines, and with the other half I made cherry madelines, but in little cake moulds rather than the traditional madeline mould.

For the plain madeline simply spoon the mixture into the moulds until they are two thirds full and bake untl golden brown. For the cherry madelines also fill the moulds until two-thirds full, but then pop in a whole, unpitted cherry with the stalk attached. There is no need to push it down more than half-way into the mixture: as the madeline bakes the mixture wil rise around it. Bake until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes in the moulds, then turn out onto a rack to cool more. They are best eaten warm, with a mug of tea or coffee, but can also be kept in an airtight container, in which case I like to just warm them slightly in a very low oven before serving them to take the chill off them.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Clafoutis with Plums

I spent the last couple of weeks in france, recuperating from the stress of finishing my thesis.

Unfortunatly I missed the cherries by a couple of weeks, but there was a lovely bush of little yellow plums, a lot like greengages except for their colour. A little Clafoutis seemed like the best way to use the huge amount of fruit. Clafoutis is half way between a cake and a custard, with a golden top but a moist interior.

Traditionally clafoutis is made with cherries, but any fruit is very good with it, particularly stone fruit like plums, greengages and damsons, though I've made it with apples and pears before too. Fruit with big stones is worth de-stoning and slicing in half, but these plums were only slightly larger than cherries, so stoning them seemed a little labour intensive, plus my father always insists the stones add to the flavour when cooked.

Heat the oven to 210oc. Melt 60g of butter. In a bowl mix 80g of sugar, and 3 medium eggs. Add 300ml of milk, and 200ml of creme fraiche, and fold in 90g of flour and a teaspoon of baking powder, and last but not least the melted butter. Place the fruit in a shallow ovenproof dish and spoon the mixture on top. Bake for about 30 minutes (depending on the size of the pan) until the top is lightly risen and golden, still leaving the bottom moist and custard-like. Serve hot, either plain or with a dollop of icecream, cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt.