Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vanilla ice cream

6 vanilla pods
625ml/1 pint whole milk
50g/2oz skimmed milk powder
120g/4½oz unrefined caster sugar
10 whole coffee beans
6 medium egg yolks

1. Place the vanilla pods on a chopping board and run a small, sharp knife along the length of each pod, cutting it in half. Use the knife to scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds into the whisking bowl of an electric mixer and add the empty pods to the milk.
2. Pour the milk and vanilla pods into a casserole of at least 1.5 litre/2¾ pints capacity. Add the milk powder, a couple of teaspoons of the sugar and the coffee beans. Place the casserole on a medium heat and bring the milk to the boil. As soon as it boils, turn the heat down and allow the milk to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, add the egg yolks to the vanilla seeds in the whisking bowl, along with the remaining sugar. Turn the machine to full speed and beat until the mixture whitens and increases in volume - about 10 minutes.
4. Place the casserole back on a medium heat and return the liquid to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, then immediately pour this liquid very gently, pods and all, on to the egg mixture while still beating. Return this mixture to the casserole and place on a low heat. Stir continuously, preferably with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon. Do not boil. The custard is ready when a line drawn along the back of the wooden spoon retains its shape.
5. Have ready a bowl large enough to fit the mixture in and sit it in a larger bowl containing ice and a little cold water. When the custard is ready, pour it into the bowl and continue stirring for a few minutes until it is cold. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. At this point the custard can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Make sure that it is thoroughly mixed so that the vanilla seeds that have fallen to the bottom are evenly distributed.
6. Churn the custard in your ice cream machine and place in the freezer, with some clingfilm pressed on to the surface of the ice cream. Leave in the freezer for 2 hours before serving.

Eggnog custard

150ml/¼ pint single cream
150ml/¼pint milk
2 egg, yolks only
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
large pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tbsp rum

1. Stir the cream and milk together in a saucepan and bring almost to boiling point, then remove from the heat.
2. With a wooden spoon, beat the yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl. Do not use a whisk as it will make the custard frothy.
3. Pour the hot cream into the custard, stirring steadily, then return the liquid to the pan and add the nutmeg. Stir on a gentle heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Serve warm.

Note: This may be made ahead, up to a day in advance, and stored in the fridge. To prevent a skin from forming, sprinkle with golden caster sugar. To serve, stir in the sugar. Alternatively just cover the custard with cling film.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3 cups packed coarsely grated peeled carrots (about 6 medium)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • Frosting:
  • 8 ounces Neufch¿tel cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

2. Prepare cake: Stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl.

3. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, applesauce and vegetable oil in large bowl. Beat 1 minute with electric mixer. Add egg whites; beat 1 minute. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Turn into pan.

4. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack.

5. Prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, rind and vanilla in deep medium-size bowl for 1 minute. Beat in confectioners¿ sugar, 1 cup at a time, until good spreading consistency, adding additional confectioners¿ sugar if needed. Spread frosting over top of cake in pan.

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti


  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 8 squares (8 ounces total) white chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening
  • Red and green nonpareils, for garnish


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully blended. On low speed, add nuts and chocolate chips. Gradually beat in flour mixture until a stiff dough forms.

4. Shape dough into 2 logs, each 10 inches long. Place on ungreased baking sheet; flatten each log to 3 inches wide. Bake at 325¿ for 35 minutes until set and tops are slightly cracked. Transfer logs to wire racks; cool 15 minutes.

5. With serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place on baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool biscotti completely on wire racks.

6. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the white chocolate and shortening. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool slightly. Dip one end of each biscotti into melted chocolate and sprinkle with read and green nonpareils. Place on waxed-paper-lined baking sheets until chocolate is set. Makes 36 cookies