Rather Boozy Tiramisu

Tiramisu

So to follow-up from a dinner of The Carbonara, I made these equally delicious tiramisu pots which I whipped up the night before. Purely so I could use these cute vintage ice cream glasses that I bought recently in a car-boot fair. This is essentiality based on the Polpo recipe, but with rather more booze (in variety and volume) as well as less sugar…because, you know, priorities.

I made enough to perfectly serve 5 ice cream glasses worth and didn’t end up using all the sponge fingers.

Rather Boozy Tiramisu:
6 double espresso shots or 360 ml strong coffee, warm
4 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp Kahlúa
2 tbsp Disaronno
240 g caster sugar
6 medium eggs, separated
120 ml Marsala
500 g marscapone
1 packet of Savoiardi sponge fingers
cocoa powder

Combine the warm coffee with the rum, Kahlúa, Disaronno and 50g of the caster sugar. Stir until combined and set aside.

Separate the eggs into two medium/large bowls. Whisk your egg whites until they are stiff. To the egg yolks add the rest of the sugar and the Marsala. Whisk the yolks until they are pale and fluffy, then add the marscarpone and gently stir in. Now you want to fold the whisked egg whites into to the yolk mixture.

For each pot or glass of tiramisu you want about 2-4 sponge fingers. Depending on your layers and glassware. First you want to dip a sponge finger into the coffee mixture, enough to soak the whole biscuit without it falling apart. Layer this down, or break it in half and only put half in if you’re serving it in tiny glasses. Then dollop a heaped tbsp of the cream mixture and repeat until you’re happy with your layers. I had 2 layers of sponge and 2 layers of cream.

*soak* *break* *dollop* *repeat*

Chill in the fridge overnight for extra yumminess. Or eat one after only 4 hours like we did! Just remember to dust them liberally with cocoa powder when you’re ready to eat.

Overnight Oats or Bircher Muesli Basic Recipe

bircher muesli

Breakfasts for a long time now have been a staple of scrambled eggs, with some slices of avocado or smoked salmon. But the season’s have started to change and all I want to eat now appears to be fruit salad and plain yogurt. In the interest of keeping things interesting I’ve started experimenting with various recipes of Bircher muesli or overnight oats. I’ve recently been buying some gluten-free oats and it’s opened up a whole new thankful world of porridge again, albeit the cold variety.

This is a mega adaptable and incredibly easy as it’s all about doing it quickly the night before and you don’t really want to be faffing around with too many measuring cups. This is enough for two tumblers full, so serves two.

Bircher Muesli Basic Recipe:
1 apple or Asian pear
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup natural set yogurt
1/2 cup fruit juice
1/4 cup raisins or saltanas
Handful of fruit and nuts to serve
Honey should you fancy it

Peel the apple or pear. I’ve used Granny Smiths, Pink Ladies and nashi pears. Anything firm and tart is good. Grate the apple through a medium grate or the finest tooth setting on a mandolin and chop it up into extra fine bits. Add this to a large mixing bowl with the oats, yogurt, raisins and juice. For the juice you can go with apple, orange, pear or even pineapple juice. The last batch I made with apple and mango juice and it was lovely. Stir everything together and put them into some tumblers and leave in the fridge overnight for the next morning. When ready to eat, garnish with some fresh fruit and nuts and maybe a drizzle of honey should you want it. Maybe even a sprinkling of cinnamon or flaxseed. Go nuts.

So easy, fresh and satisfying.

Panna Cotta with Blackberry Compote

panna cotta

Wow, a week has passed and I haven’t updated. My bad. It’s not that I wasn’t cooking, truth be told, I’m actually back in Hong Kong over the holidays and there’s a lot of cooking, eating and catch ups to be had. But this post isn’t about my blogging tardiness, it’s about this delectable panna cotta I made as the finishing touch to a meal I cooked for my friend. Deserts are always I bit of a hard one I find. I tend to always eat a bit of fruit normally, but after an indulgent meal sometimes you crave something a little more. This is a dainty light panna cotta with a sweet yet satisfyingly sharp compote to balance out those flavours. I’ve cheated a bit, in that the panna cotta isn’t set then turned out of a ramekin, but how pretty does this look? Plus, Polpo does it this way, so it can’t be all bad. This makes 3-4 little tumblers worth of pudding.

Panna Cotta with Blackberry Compote:
190 ml full fat milk
200 ml double cream
40 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
4 g leaf gelatin
1 tbsp of grappa or grape juice
About 125 g of blackberries with extra to serve

Put a heavy based pan onto the stove. Into this, add your milk, double cream,  35 g of caster sugar and the seeds scraped out of your vanilla pod. Just before it all comes to boiling point, remove it from the heat.

Get some icy water into a container and soften your gelatine leaves for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water (playing with gelatine at this stage is quite tactile and fun!) and add this to your creamy mixture along with your grappa.

Pour your creamy liquid into a glass bowl over some ice and let it slowly cool. Give it a stir every so often to disperse the vanilla pod seeds. Once the seeds start to suspend themselves in the creaminess, about an hour later, your mixture is ready. Decant into some tumblers and chill them in the fridge. They are even better if left overnight, but I was happy with 8 hours of chilling.

Now make your compote. Put your 125 g worth of blackberries into a large saucepan with around 25 ml of water and the remaining caster sugar. On a very low heat, poach those berries until they soften and start to lose their shape. At this point you want to access how you like your compote. I mashed half of the softened berries and added a tiny bit more sugar and water. I would recommend that you don’t make it too sweet though, because you want something to counter the sweet creaminess of the panna cotta. But you know. Do it to taste.

When you are ready to serve, add a generous helping of compote to your little panna cotta tumblers and add a couple of fresh blackberries for some variation. Yum yum yum. Oh! It’s new year’s eve today as well so I hope you all have a blast partying around the world tonight. Bring on 2013!

Homemade yogurt: a cultured endeavour

I’ve recently decided to get Abel & Cole to deliver a small exotic veg box to me once a week. Their service is great and it has really got me out of a slump in terms of the total lack of inspiration I get whenever I walk into my local Tesco Express. I always have such high hopes when I walk into that Tesco, maybe I’ll get inspired and whip up something amazing. But after doing my zombie rounds, I always end up with a box of eggs; a courgette; some beetroot; and cherry tomatoes…without fail. So upon the arrival of my maiden veg box, brimming with fresh shiitake mushrooms; curly leaf kale; purple carrots; and rainbow chard…I could have cried tears of joy. What’s more amazing is that as well as getting a box of organic exotic veg – every other week I get something free. One week I got orange juice the next a litre of semi skimmed milk.

It is this bottle of milk that this post shall focus on. As much I have every intention to finish a litre of milk, I simply don’t eat enough cereal or drink enough tea to justify this amount of milk without it going off. And sad to say, I have in the past let a perfectly good amount of milk go off and had to lumpily pour it down the sink. So the other day when I checked the fridge and saw this gratis and completely unopened bottle of milk about to turn – I decided to do something about it.

Things you'll need to make yogurt:
1 litre of milk - any type is fine
2-3 tbsp plain yogurt with live cultures - your starter
large pot to heat milk - or slow cooker
sugar or jam thermometer
glass bowl big enough for your milk
whisk
sieve
Jam jars or a big enough glass container for your yogurt

So first you want to pasteurise your milk. Get it in a pot on your stove and heat it ever so slowly (to avoid burny milk) to 82°C – I actually did this in my slow cooker. Once it reaches that temp remove from heat and let it cool to 43°C. While cooling, put your jams jars in the sink and submerge them in hot water. Basically you don’t want cold jam jars for when you transfer your milk and yogurt mixture. Hot liquid and jars: friendly bacteria sexy times. Pour hot water into your glass bowl now too, you’ll need it for the next step.

When your milk has cooled enough get that hot water out of your bowl and pour your milk in. Add those tablespoons of yogurt starter and whisk up a bacillus party! When mixed thoroughly get your jam jars outta the sink and decant the milk mixture in through a sieve. Now place those jars in a warm place and don’t touch them for 8-12 hours – your bacteria like a bit of calm so they don’t die but multiply…I’m sure there’s a rap lyric in there somewhere…oh! Haha, brilliant. Pinoy hip hop. God, I love the internet. I’m just going to go ahead and let that play in the background while I continue to write this…Anyway, I put my yogurt vessel in the oven with the light on overnight.

The next day you should have made beautifully set yogurt! Now put it in the fridge until it’s cooled and ready for you to eat.

I was surprised at how light and creamy mine turned out. The yogurt I used as my starter was quite sharp and I sort of expected it to cultivate a similar flavour. Nope. I served my first ever batch of yogurt with mixed berries, some shredded basil and a drizzle of honey. Delish. If you want a Greek style thicker set yogurt, strain your yogurt over some muslin cloth and sieve for 2-3 hours in the fridge. Also, it turns out that the good bacteria doesn’t denature when you freeze it, so when you’re almost done eating don’t forget to put a few tablespoons in the freezer so you can use your own starter next time. Happy cultivating.

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