Following a taste of home made lemon meringue ice cream a couple of weeks ago (thanks Bec and Karen), I was desperate to see if I could recreate the creamy but sharp flavour myself at home. So, using the basic recipe I was given and double checking things with Mary Berry (as you do when you’re not experienced at these things!), I gave it a go. Here’s my version of the recipe:
- 300ml pot of double cream
- standard sized jar of lemon curd
- box of 8 (shop bought) meringue nests
- Whip up the cream until the whisk leaves a trail. I used an electric whisk to do this – it took a little longer than I’d expected (I haven’t done much cream whipping in the past!) so I’m glad I didn’t do it by hand.
- Add most of the jar of lemon curd and stir through. I left a 2-3 teaspoons worth in the bottom of the jar.
- Crush the meringue in to small (but various sized) pieces. Stir most of it through the ice cream mixture.
- Put the mixture in a freezer-proof container. ‘Pour’ the remaining lemon curd on the top (‘dollop’ might be a better verb there), then sprinkle the remaining meringue on top… I thought this would make it look like a posh ice cream desert!
- Freeze for at least four hours, or preferably overnight.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
This really is very easy and very tasty, no doubt about that. The whipping of the cream took a few minutes but not that long really, and once it’s made it will sit in the freezer until you want it.
With all that lemon curd it has a really sharp citrus flavour which complements the cream perfectly and is very refreshing. I served mine up between four of us as a desert and everyone agreed it was particularly yummy and I should make it again very soon. Praise indeed!
The quantity, which doesn’t look like much when you’re whipping the cream, is plenty for four, probably even six. The fact you add a jar of lemon curd and a whole load of meringue makes it a really decent sized tub of ice cream which goes a long way due to the richness.
I think next time I want this to be a desert to serve guests (rather than just making it to dig my spoon in), then I will line my container with cling film before filling and freezing so that I can turn it out onto a plate and serve it sliced. If I did this then I couldn’t really make the top look like Carte D’Or or Vienetta because the top would become the bottom, so I would stir all the ingredients through it instead. It would just be easier to serve (neater) that way.
I’m trying to work out what other flavours would work with the cream. We reckoned raspberry ripple (fresh raspberries, squirts of raspberry sauce and crushed up meringue) and chocolate (crushed up flake, squirts of chocolate sauce, mini marshmallows) would work. What other suggestions have you got? What could I use to make this mint choc chip?
Go make some!
I was given another baking challenge recently (you can see my attempt at heathy cupcakes here and my Hey Little Cupcakes here), and this time I had free reign to choose something from the Baking Mad website to make and write about here on Splodz Blogz. Well it’s nearly Easter so I thought I’d definitely go for something in the Easter baking section, and had pretty much decided I’d make the Easter Bunny Biscuits when I thought “I know, I’ll see what my husband would like me to make”… he chose the Carrot Cake.
This was the big pile of ingredients I needed…
Having sat and read the recipe through and got all my ingredients together I wondered if I would actually manage this. As someone who rarely bakes and therefore doesn’t really have much baking experience (apparently watching the Great British Bake Off doesn’t really count), I looked and decided this was a silly idea. I should have stuck with the biscuits.
First question. When a recipe says (which this does) 500g carrots, peeled and grated… does it mean weigh 500g carrote then peel and grate them? Or weigh out 500g of peeled and grated carrots? You see – I really don’t know what I’m doing here. Fell at the first hurdle. I decided it was 500g of peeled and grated carrots. Was I right? I don’t know. But that’s what I used.
Everything else made sense (I am naturally blonde you know) and I went about following the instructions to make the cake batter. I haven’t copied them all out here as you can see the instructions for yourself on the Baking Mad website, but basically you put the flavours in one bowl, then make the oil/sugar/flour/egg mixture in another, before beating them together. I used an electric whisk to do the hard work as suggested online, and it made light work of combining the oil with the sugar and then adding the eggs. At this point I thought there was an awful lot of stuff in my bowl, but once I mixed the batter with the flavours it all seemed to come together and reduce in size somehow – less air in amongst the grated carrot or something like that.
I put the cake mixture in the tin and bunged it in the oven. An hour later I checked it and my skewer came out covered in batter… not cooked. I ended up leaving it in for another half an hour so 1 hour 30 minutes in total. Seemed like ages. Do cakes normally take this long? I ended up having to leave the cake overnight to cool as it was getting late – icing waited for the next evening. It did look a bit dark on the outside and I was worried I’d now overcooked it, but when I took it out of the tin the next day it was still light and moist underneath and not too solid around the edges.
The following evening I carefully took the cake out of the tin and made the icing. Mmmm butter, soft cheese and icing sugar – all beaten together using an electric whisk. Yum. It was easy to make and very light. Actually it was a bit runny, and a bit lumpy despite much whisking, but it tasted right. Being a tad runny it was difficult to spread nicely on the cake – it kept slipping off. So I put it in the fridge for a little while and tried again, which seemed to do the trick.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
So my Easter Carrot Cake, which I decorated with shop bought chocolate carrots, looks a bit of a mess to be honest. But the proof of the pudding is always in the eating – I’m not auditioning for Masterchef or anything – and thankfully this does taste really good. It’s a good job because of the time it took and the money I spent on ingredients, I’d have been distraught if it tasted foul!!
It’s a filling cake although moist and much lighter than a fruit cake, and it has a tang to it from the combination of carrots, coconut, cinnamon and raisins. The icing is the perfect accompaniment giving some real sweetness to the dish. Really good actually, I am actually pleased!
Next time (if I ever do this again!) I’ll probably use slightly less carrot and will see if I can make the icing nicer, but I’d say this was a pretty decent effort.
Recipe wise this one from the Baking Mad website was easy to follow and what I ended up with was a really nice cake… there’s still a bit left if anyone fancies a taste?!
See the Baking Mad website for the Easter Carrot Cake website and loads of other ideas including what looks like a tasty Simnel Cake, and if you give it a try please comment below with your experience!
I don’t mind admitting that I’m a big fan of the television series The Biggest Loser. I also don’t mind admitting that I find the USA and Australian versions much more enjoyable than the UK one. The UK series seems somehow muted, a bit half hearted, when you compare them to its overseas counterparts. But I still watch, of course, normally whilst eating some unhealthy snack of another (don’t tell me you don’t watch those people exercise to within an inch of their lives while digging out ice cream from a Ben and Jerry’s tub too!). It’s great to see these people’s lives completely transformed, and I might even learn something about diet and exercise along the way.
This post is about The Biggest Loser Cookbook, which I have been sent by Octopus Books following a book review tweet a couple of weeks ago. I go through fazes of cooking meals I know by heart coz they’re easy, and cooking from a recipe book. This week I’ve obviously been in recipe book mode, partly because I had a long weekend off work and so had time to spend on preparation and cooking, and partly because I had a cookbook to review.
Before we talk recipes though, and there are 100 in this book, this isn’t just a cookbook. It’s billed as a “personal programme for nutritious & delicious guilt-free food” and is part of a suite of plans, advice and help that goes with The Biggest Loser franchise. The book starts with information about weight, your BMI and setting targets. It also includes a page from each of the trainers with diet and exercise tips. The idea, I guess, is to make you realise that being healthy is about a combination of choices including eating right and exercising, and not just dieting. The plan in this book is based on you eating three meals plus snacks and having a treat each day. It seems to make a lot of sense as far as diets go.
But I’m not going on a diet to test a book (I’m sat writing this while munching on some very lovely biscuits that will be the subject of another post soon), I was simply interested in the recipes for healthy meals. And that’s fine. You can follow the plan and use the two week menu provided if you like, or you can just use the 100 or so recipes as they are. They come in sections – breakfasts, salads, soups/stews, fish/poultry/meat, and desserts. As I do with all my cookbooks, I sat down and looked at each recipe to see what took my fancy – and there was quite a few. This week I’ve tried three of those recipes.
The Butternut Squash Soup from page 85 was very simple, as most soups tend to be. At just 100 calories per portion (I did make more than the recipe suggests and therefore probably had about 150 calories in my bowl) I felt absolutely no guilt having the warm brown baguette I baked to go with it. Being butternut squash and having very little water added, this is a fairly thick soup when liquidised and went down very well – it was very tasty. I froze half and am very much looking forward to having it again another day.
The Lamb Curry with Coconut Milk on page 141 took ages to prepare and cook – a couple of hours (I’m a pretty novice cook really but you do have to leave it for an hour or so). However the time was worth it as it was really tasty, full of flavour, although not a spicy curry – I’ll be adding chilli next time. Again, with two of us this recipe made plenty to freeze enough for another day.
Last night I tried the Spring Vegetable Risotto on page 78. This was right up my street but not so much for my husband, but I decided to make it anyway. It’s a risotto with broad beans, peas and courgette. It looked green and fresh and tasted great, I gobbled mine up really fast, it was very yummy. 425 calories for a decent portion of risotto isn’t bad either, and perfect for a meat-free dinner. One to do again for me, but not one my other half enjoyed as much.
That’s all I’ve tried so far, but I have plans to make more of the soups (love a good soup) and also the Chilli Con Carne on page 148 among other things.
Overall I’d say this book is great if you’re looking for some healthy meal ideas as well as some pretty decent dieting advice. We’re not talking super low calorie things on every page, but each recipe has something going for it that makes it a good healthy choice. But beware a book that doesn’t give you an indication of the total preparation/cooking time – these aren’t quick weekday night suppers, most take much longer than I’d normally spend on dinner.
The Biggest Loser Cookbook is £12.99 (£6.49 on Amazon at the moment) and published by Octopus Publishing Group.
Lots of people I know bake. I don’t. Mainly because I really don’t have the time for yet another hobby, but also because I’m really never sure where to start. Now flapjacks and biscuits I can do, but not cakes.
So why did I sign up for Baking Mad’s Healthy Baking Challenge then? Because I can’t resist a challenge of course! I chose to try the Low Calorie Fruity Butterfly Cakes… the idea is that you can still enjoy your favourite sweet treats but don’t have to fill your body with pointless calories. Baking Mad sent me the sugar and flour I needed, oh and the recipe:
- 55g low fat spread
- 55g Half Spoon Granulated Sugar
- 1 egg
- 85g Self Raising Flour (I used Allinson Nature Friendly)
- 2 tbsp unsweetened apple puree (home made, see below)
- Creme Fraiche
- For the apple puree: Peel, core and thinly slice 500g eating apples (I used Braeburn) and place the slices in a saucepan. Toss with lemon juice to avoid browning. Add about 50ml apple juice or water and place the pan over a medium heat. Bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the apples are reduced to a pulp. (Use leftover apple puree in yoghurt or on breakfast cereal.)
- For the cakes: Sit 6 paper cases into a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan oven 160 C, 350 F, gas mark 4)
- Beat together the low fat spread and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until combined. Fold in the flour and apple puree.
- Spoon the batter into the cases and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- When cooled, use a sharp knife to slice off the top part of each cake. Fill the hole in the cake with the creme fraiche and raspberries, cut the sliced off cake in two, and arrange in the cream.
As a non baker I was really careful I measured the ingredients and followed the recipe to the letter. The recipe (thankfully) was easy to follow and understand. I also had twitter to hand though, and I did check if it was fairy cake of muffin cases I should be using – fairy cake cases was the answer. I also checked with a friend how I knew if they were cooked – going golden brown on top and spring back when touched.
The whole point of doing this baking was to test the idea of low calorie cakes. There are a few things that make these butterfly cakes better for you than traditional ones. The main reason is using Half Spoon granulated sugar instead of normal sugar. Half Spoon is made by Silver Spoon – it is granulated sugar with a touch of sweetener; it’s twice as sweet so you only need half as much as regular sugar. Half Spoon is great for low calorie baking as you can still get the taste and texture that regular sugar brings, but with fewer calories. Bonus.
The “fruity” bit of these cakes comes from adding apple purée to the cake batter and topping the cakes with raspberries. The apple purée is home made and something you can also use in other baking and on breakfasts, as a desert topping or even on pork chops – it couldn’t have been simpler to make and will keep in the fridge a few days. The addition of fruit to a butterfly cake was an excellent idea, although there wasn’t so much it was the only taste.
The taste test, which let’s face it is the most important bit of baking, went well. I thought so anyway. In reality the reviews amongst those who tried these were mixed. I knew what was in the cakes and what I should expect, and really enjoyed them. The little cakes had a slight apple flavour which was nice, and the crème fraiche was fresh and added some nice moisture to the top. Others, who didn’t know the reasons behind the bake, found the cake was a little more dense than a traditional butterfly cake – due to the addition of the apple purée no doubt. And I’m sorry to say the topping just wasn’t sweet enough for some – the raspberries gave a nice sharp fruitiness, but it wasn’t the same as butter cream. I do agree with the butter cream comment – the creme fraiche just isn’t the same – but I was quite happy with my “slightly healthier” butterfly cakes.
Next time I would be tempted to use the same cake batter (with the apple purée in, I felt it added a nice flavour to the cake), but would be tempted to make a butter cream for the top – I could probably use the Half Spoon sugar to make that slightly better than normal.
Go on, give these a go, and have a look at Baking Mad for more low calorie recipe ideas using Half Spoon sugar and fruit.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve had a fridge full of yoghurt (well, the top shelf anyway, but that’s still a lot of yoghurt) thanks to the nice people over at Rachel’s Organic, who sent me a box full to try.
Rachel’s Organic is Britain’s first certified organic dairy, producing a range of organic yogurts, milk, desserts, cream and crème fraiche. The yoghurts are available everywhere now and I have indeed come across them before – those big tubs of natural yoghurt are yummy. They believe that you get out what you put in, and so all their products are made with only the finest “unadulterated” ingredients from nature, giving “sophisticated and authentic” tastes.
Let me take you through what they sent…
Low Fat Yoghurt
Most of the yoghurt I was sent (and I think most of the yoghurts in the range) come in the “low fat” category. These are the most popular that Rachel’s Organic produce. The Low Fat Natural Yoghurt is the “basic” product, if you like, made with milk and yoghurt cultures with nothing added – totally pure. What you get is a mild and fresh yoghurt that has the tang you expect from a natural yoghurt but without being overbearing or too tart. The texture is lovely too, smooth, creamy even, and apparently less than 2% fat. I’m one of those people who will sit and eat natural yoghurt on its own, but I know not many people do, it’s great to have over fruit, with cereal, with added honey or fruit puree, or as an ingredient in smoothies, deserts, sauces and marinades. This is the all-rounder of the yoghurt world and it’s very yummy.
Apple and Elderflower is new to the range. I see it around a lot now as a flavour combination and I know why – it’s delightful. Elderflower is a lovely sweet ingredient that really works well with apple, and in this yoghurt it is no exception. Some yoghurts are really over flavoured in that you can only taste the flavouring rather than the yoghurt itself – this taste test has shown me that it doesn’t have to be that way – Rachel’s Organic seem to give you something that still has the tang of actual yoghurt with the fruit added.
The Rhubarb one is so nice. Honestly. Like I said above what Rachel’s Organic have managed to do is make yoghurt that taste of yoghurt with fruit spooned through. This rhubarb one has bits of rhubarb in it but the yoghurt is natural. Probably my second favourite of the whole lot I tasted… second that is to the Vanilla one. So very creamy, but still with that natural yoghurt tang. Honestly, so good. It uses organic Madagascan Bourbon vanilla to flavour the yoghurt and it really doesn’t taste like it’s less than 2% fat. If you want something a bit sharper, try the Rasberry one – the natural yoghurt still cuts through, but the fruit itself is a little stronger making a really fruity yoghurt. And of course all the fruit used is organic too.
Greek Style Yoghurt
Greek yoghurt is traditionally thicker than normal natural yoghurt, often referred to as “set” yoghurt. It makes for a great addition to cereal and can be used as an addition to deserts instead of cream. A slightly higher fat content than the ones in the low fat category about (less than 10%), it is obviously more creamy in texture and flavour.
I’m not one for adding Honey to my yoghurt but when I tried this one I was pleasantly surprised. Like the fruit yoghurts above the addition of the honey (collected from the foothills of the Himalayas) to the yoghurt is subtle and not overpowering – it makes this taste lovely, and is just great for putting on your Weetabix. The honey is strongest as a slightly sweet aftertaste. The Coconut one intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to try it, I love coconut flavoured things, and I was really impressed with this (probably number three of them in order of preference). This uses creamed coconut, giving the yoghurt an actual coconut texture, which is what I hope when I take a mouthful of something with coconut in. A sweet yoghurt perfect for breakfast yes, but also suitable for using in currys in place of more fattening ingredients.
Limited Edition Seasonal Fruits
I hope I haven’t taken too long to taste all these yoghurts, because this Seasonal Fruits limited edition flavour was a real find. This is one of Rachel’s Organic “thick and creamy” yoghurts, made with milk and cream (probably best not think about the fat content, although it’s not as bad as many other deserts!). These little individual pots come in Apple and Rhubarb and Apple and Cinnamon – tastes of the Christmas season for sure. Both are flavoured subtly, as with all the other yoghurts I’ve reviewed, and are so very creamy. Of the two the apple and rhubarb one is definitely my favourite, I’m hoping to see that in a big pot sometime soon. The apple and cinnamon one kind of tasted like apple pie filling.
I have to say these yoghurts, all of them, are far superior to those little pots you buy in multipacks from the supermarket. The big pots aren’t really great for chucking in your lunch box, but they are ideal for keeping in the fridge at home and spooning into a bowl or over your fruit at any time of the day.
Did you download Great British Chefs after I wrote about it? If you did or you didn’t you might be interested in this follow-up app – the Feastive Edition.
Here you have 60 new recipes from well known chefs, all with a festive theme so you can pull out a show stopper of a Christmas Day meal.
There are also “how to” films for particularly tricky stages of recipes, which sound useful (especially for me!).
The back of this book starts: “Some women collect shoes, Allegra collects knives”.
This coffee table recipe book follows Allegra McEvedy around the world as she travels, trying out different foods and dishes.
“Allegra tells the stories of her travels through the knives she has collected on the way, from aesthetically-crafted filleting knives from Scandinavia to simple, effective and impressive African tools, and includes several recipes inspired by each country. From Spanish pea and ham croquetas and Malawian pumpkin curry to Brazilian breakfast juice and Cuban banana daiquiris – these are straightforward and interesting recipes you will have never cooked before but will want to eat again and again.”
The recipes are indeed easy to follow, and I didn’t find many ingredients I wouldn’t be able to get hold of. But the best thing about this book is the writing style. This is not just any recipe book – this is a diary – and the way Allegra outlines the recipes and gives information about the knives is as descriptive as any novel.
The image-heavy pages are a pleasure to read and the descriptions and information about the different places featured whisk you away as if you were there… written in a totally personal style, this book shouldn’t be confined to your cookbook shelf – it needs a place somewhere far more prominent.
Great British Chefs is a recipe book with a difference. Well it’s not a book at all – it’s an iPad App.
With the new Great British Chefs app foriPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, 12 of Britain’s most celebrated chefs have come together to connect food lovers with stunning recipes. Putting 180 dishes in the palm of your hand, the app gives users access to three customisable five-course menus from each chef, which they can either follow in full or use to make a bespoke menu of their own. The app is bursting with tips, videos, wine pairings, and a shopping list tailored to whichever dishes users want to make.
From the perfect beignets to quail mulligatawny to bubblegum panna cotta – when you make them, they’ll leave any guest begging for the recipe. We believe that people should share the recipes they love, so if you have the app you can just email them to your guests.
As a piece of design this App is simply stunning, very well constructed. It’s easy to navigate and looks fantastic – the photography is gorgeous and there is so much more information than you’d get in a book.
The premise of the “book” is to bring together recipes ideal for entertaining from some of Britain’s best chefs… it’s about getting Michelin starred food from your own kitchen.
The App very visual. You work your way through by tapping and swiping through various screens. Take this Mussels Mouclade with Spinach Mousse recipe by Simon Hulstone, for example:
Extras in this App you just wouldn’t get in a book include the ability to create a shopping list based on what recipes you want to cook, as well as a built in timer.
The recipes have built in voice control so you can tell the app when you are ready to move onto the next step rather than having to touch the screen with hands covered in flour or chicken or whatever else. I found the voice control did actually work, although it was a little slow to respond – just be patient and it’s a really useful tool. You simply say “next” and it highlights the next instruction so you know exactly where you are and what you need to do.
It’s really easy to find recipes based on course, ingredient or complexity from the drop down menu and it’ll display just recipes in that category, or you can search specifically for an ingredient too.
I particularly like this “easy” category, although I must say these are quite amazing dishes, none of them seem particularly “easy” to me!!
And of course it’s not just recipes – this App also provides information about the chefs and their suggested menus. This is a really nice added touch – and again the photography is really brilliant.
Looking through the App there are a few recipes that catch my attention, although I’ve been way too chicken to try them so far… I will give it a go when I’m feeling more confident in my new kitchen (yes that is an excuse!).
The App is available from iTunes for both iPhone and iPad currently priced just £2.49 (a special offer). If you know something about cooking and really want to impress your friends with some amazing recipes then you should definitely get this. Alternatively if you’re no good at cooking like me but love nice looking recipe books and have a thing for great Apps, then you should also get this. Oh and if you’re an App designer then you should absolutely download this now – it really does make the most of the iPad screen and functionality, and is simply beautiful.