It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted due to a) going down to the wifi-less, signal-less, Medieval depths of Cornwall for a week and b) coming back home for the Easter holidays and subsequently becoming honorary stay-at-home-daughter whilst the parents go off to work. I’m not a very good one – I forgot the shops would be shut on Easter Sunday so got no food in, meaning our Easter Sunday was spent driving around Surrey in an attempt to find anything open so that Easter Sunday lunch didn’t have to consist of eggs, some courgettes and leftover Cornish brie.
Despite this, I actually quite enjoy the stay-at-home life. I get up at 7 (most days), drive dad to the station (if I’ve actually woken up), make breakfast, go back to sleep until at least 10, do some light (very light) cleaning of the kitchen etc, get food in (I HAVE THE POWER TO DICTATE DINNER it’s so sad how excited I am by this) and then I’m free to do as I please for the day. It got me thinking that despite the obvious benefits of youth – no wrinkles, metabolism, the occasional £20 from my Granny when I visit – there are some perks of being middle aged. For example:
- You can send back food without feeling guilty (or is just me? I always feel I don’t have enough authority to send back food).
- You can wear clothes for comfort over style. No more tight skinny jeans and bralettes that evoke a constant fear of boob spilling out, which as fun as it is, gets harder as the night goes on. Instead I can take after mum and buy like 5 jumpers that all look exactly the same but, as she argues, are a good investment because you never know when one might shrink in the wash.
- Going to the gym doesn’t actually mean going to the gym anymore. It means going to an aqua-zumba class and bobbing up and down for an hour to ‘I’m Sexy and I know it’ (I actually took one of these classes once with a friend and it was hilarious).
- You can blame your shitty mood on the menopause. You can blame the fact that you’ve eaten a family-size pot of pasta and half a chicken on the menopause. In fact I’m pretty sure you can blame anything on the menopause. I’m not sure if this is just a myth, but everyone will be too scared of my menopausal moods to tell me otherwise.
- You can also do something completely out-of-character/irrational and say that you’re having a midlife crisis. Dad recently announced, for example, that he’s going to get his motorbike license and buy a Ducati. I naturally blamed this on the midlife crisis rite of passage, until he told me his test is booked for May.
This leads me on to mums latest midlife crisis-esque purchase; we went into town for a mascara and some lunch, we came home with a professional ice cream machine. I tried to reason with mum that we actually already have an ice cream machine, but no – she wanted a better one. Not that I’m complaining actually – we can now make any flavour ice cream in 45 minutes rather than 12 hours.
So the first recipe I’m including in this post today is for a toasted pine nut gelato (why bother making vanilla when Haagen Dazs does it just fine?). You don’t need a professional ice cream machine (or even a run-of-the-mill ice cream machine, although if you’d like one we have one going spare now) – you’ll just need to follow the steps I’ve given below. It won’t be quite as smooth as an Italian gelato if you follow this method, but it’ll still taste amazing.
Toasted Pine Nut and Honey Ice Cream, adapted from Linda Tubby‘s book, Gelato
400ml whole milk
150ml whipping cream
150ml honey (we used mum’s honey but I think it would be really nice with acacia or heather honey)
3 strips of orange peel
1tsp good quality instant espresso or coffee
4 egg yolks
200g pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Put the whole milk, whipping cream, honey, orange peel and coffee into a saucepan and heat on low until it starts lightly bubbling at the edges. Take of the heat.
- Whilst the milk mixture is heating, separate the eggs and place the yolks into a large bowl. Whisk them up.
- Pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine. Rinse out the saucepan before pouring the mixture back in and putting on low heat.
- Stir continuously for around 6-8 minutes until all the bubbles are gone from the surface. At this point, place a jam thermometer into the saucepan and heat until the custard reaches 75 degrees c. If you don’t have a thermometer you could guess it, but it’s very important that the custard doesn’t go over 75, or it’ll curdle.
- Pour the custard back into the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
- When cold, put the toasted pine nuts into a blender along with a bit of the custard, and blend until smooth. Add the rest of the custard and blend to combine. Refrigerate this mixture for another half an hour.
- If using an ice cream machine, churn the custard for about 45 minutes before placing in the freezer for another hour before serving.
- If not using a blender, place in the coldest part of the freezer for 1 1/2 hours. At this point, take out the ice cream and break up the hard edges with a fork. Whisk the mixture with an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk until slushy and combined, before putting back into the freezer for another 2 hours. After 2 hours, transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Spoon this back into a container and freeze for a final 2 hours.
Because it’s been a while (and because not many people have the conviction to make ice cream without an ice cream maker) I thought I’d include a second recipe for a leftover chicken salad. I’ve used a mix of red and white cabbage with carrots for this version, but to be honest you can use any vegetables you have lying around that need using up – steer clear of leaves like rocket and spinach though, as they’re too delicate to carry the dressing (which is made amazing from the gallon of peanut butter added). This is also a great way to use up leftover chicken from a roast.
Leftover Chicken Salad with Peanut, Ginger and Chilli Dressing
15g dried wakame (you don’t need it, but it tastes great. You can buy it pretty cheap on Amazon. It’s more than double the price in health food stores)
Half a red cabbage, shredded
A quarter of a white cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, either spiralized or julienned using a vegetable peeler
2 spring onions
As much leftover chicken as you have – I had 2 legs
Large handful of coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
4 tbsp peanut butter
Half a thumb of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
Half a red chilli, deseeded
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- First, soak the wakame according to the packet instructions (normally 5-8 minutes), and squeeze out any excess water.
- Add the peanut butter, ginger, garlic, chilli, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, tamari (or soy sauce) and water to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Adjust according to the taste
- Add the cabbages, carrot, wakame, spring onions, chicken and coriander to a large bowl, before pouring on as much of the dressing as your like (it makes quite a lot so I reserved half for another salad. It’ll keep in a jar in the fridge for a week or so).
- Serve with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice.
OH BEFORE I FORGET I decided to invest in actually buying my domain name so that I look like a real website, so I’m no longer http://www.tinykitchentests.wordpress.com, I’m just http://www.tinykitchentests.com. I’m also in the process of designing my own logo. T-shirts, kitchen towels, hoodies and hats on sale soon (I am joking. Only I get to wear the t-shirt).