Fresh Cherry Ice Cream Recipe

cherry-ice-creamAt the moment it is cherry season in Canberra and the cherries are plump and ever so juicy.  So because there is an abundance of cherries I needed to come up with a way of using up some of the excess.

Well I have found one way to use them that is absolutely yummy – cherry ice cream.

Back in August I brought a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and I love it.  In fact I look for any opportunity to make ice cream. And over that time we have sorted out some favourites. Up until now my favourites have been chocolate with added bits and pieces such as hazel nuts or crushed up crunchy bars and my other favourite was fresh strawberry,  Paula’s favourite is toasted pecan ice cream.  So I make each one as the mood takes me.

But now my favourite is definitely fresh cherry.

I use the recipe that came with the Cuisinart for the Fresh Strawberry ice cream and just adapt it with various fruits such as mango, passionfruit, frozen mixed berries, whatever is in season.

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How to Make Marinated Feta Cheese

We recently purchased a Mad Millie’s home cheese making kit and finally got around to making some Marinated Feta. The kit comes complete with the following items:-

  • a ceramic cheese pot with ceramic pressing plate and lid
  • cheese mould
  • plastic colander
  • a piece of cheesecloth,
  • thermometer
  • vegetarian rennet tablets
  • citric acid
  • cheese salt
  • recipe card.

So you have everything you need to get started. The contents are packed inside a French artisan themed box which makes this kit an attractive gift.  But this one is for me and I love it. Everything is kept nice and neat inside the box so I don’t have to go hunting for things the next time I want to make cheese. We decided to start with the Marinated Feta recipe.

And remember you don’t have to have a kit, you can use items you have in the home, but the kit makes it soooooo much easier, especially if you are just starting out.

So lets go through the steps that we took to make the cheese – the recipe can be found at the bottom of the post.

The first thing to do is heat the milk to 95°F  (35°C). Make sure you stir the milk while it is heating.

Cheese Making

testing-the-milk-temperature

After sprinkling the citric acid over the top of the milk we added the diluted rennet. To dissolve the rennet tablet we crumbled it into 1 Tbsp of non-chlorinated water 

rennet

dissolve-rennet

After stirring  in the rennet we had to wait for 30 mins to allow the curd to form.  Once the curd was formed I cut it with a long knife.

cut-the-curd

 There is a fair bit of hurry up and wait when making cheese so it has to rest undisturbed for 5 mins once you cut it into cubes.  Then you stir it gently for 1 min and leave it to sit again for another 5 mins.

stirring-the-curd

During the resting time I lined the colander with the cheese cloth and then carefully poured the curd into the colander.

pouring-the-curd

pouring-the-curd-1

curd-in-colander

Once all the curd was poured into the colander its time to pull up the corners of the cheesecloth in preparation for hanging from the tap. This allows the excess liquid to drain nicely from the curd.

bringing-the-cheesecloth-ends-up

the-curd-hanging

Once the liquid has drained for around 30 mins or more, place the cheesecloth with the curd into the plastic cheese mold and place it in the ceramic cheese pot.

curd-in-cheese-pot

Open up the cheese cloth and place the pressing plate directly on top of the curd. Bring up the ends of the cheesecloth and place on top of pressing plate.

add-pressing-plate

ends-on-top

Now its time to apply some pressure to squeeze out the last drops of liquid and to do this we add 8lbs (3.5kgs) of weight.   I couldn’t find anything on hand so resorted to filling up two Tupperware containers to equal that weight. And they worked just fine.

weighting-the-curd

After the cheese has been pressed for a couple of hours – until it is firm – remove the the chess mold from the  cheese pot and rinse out the pot.  Now it’s time to add the salt brine to the cheese pot.

brine

Remove the cheese from the mold and the cheesecloth and cut it into 1/2 in (2.5 cm) cubes. Put the cubes back into the mold (without the cheesecloth) and place the mold into the salt brine that is  in the cheese pot.

Leave the cheese for 30 minutes until it becomes noticeably firmer and salty in taste. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat it dry with a wet towel.  I forgot to do this important step and couldn’t make out why the cheese was a bit wet and crumbly. So do remember to do this before adding the cheese to the jar. You can see in the picture that my cubes aren’t as nicely cubed as they should be as they are a bit damp.

curd-in-jar

Sprinkle all of the herbs over top of the cheese and then cover it in oil and seal.

add-herbs

add-oil

oil-added

Leave for a week before sampling. Well the is what the recipe says but we kept some aside to have with crackers and it was really tasty and delicious just as it was. a However, I am looking forward to the end of the week when we can open the jar and sample the oil and herb soaked cheese.

cheese-and-crackers

It really isn’t complicated if you just follow the steps in the recipe.  And I think its well worth it. You know exactly what has gone into your cheese and that’s a plus in my book.  Bon Appetit.

 

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Sugar Free – Paleo – Blondies Recipe

blondiesQuite some time ago we embarked on the Paleo diet. I have to say that I feel really great since starting this way of eating which is based on the diet of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era.

When we first started I wondered how we would go with sweet treats but I have been pleasantly surprised at the wide range of tasty treat recipes that are available.

I have been busy over the time making almond chocolate which I love and have just had a go at making ‘Blondies”. this recipe has been adapted from the Paleo Meal Plan Recipe Book. I say adapted because we had to substitute some of the ingredients.

BLONDIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz jar almond butter  – we used peanut butter
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ½ maple syrup – here we had to cheat as I only had about ¼ cup so we topped it up with  golden syrup.
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond butter with honey, maple syrup and eggs. Mix well
  3. Mix in salt and baking soda, followed by ½ cup of the chocolate chips
  4. Pour batter into a well greased 9×13 baking dish and spread the batter oout evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining chocolate chips
  6. Bake for 35 minutes.

These are very tasty and an ideal healthy treat for adults and kids alike.

For this and many other tasty Paleo meals and sweet treats you cant go past the Quick and Simple Paleo Meals recipe book and the 8 week meal plan

blondies-paleo

 

Popcorn Butterscotch Squares

popcorn-butterscotch-squaresNow that the kids are back at school its time to start thinking about lunchbox fillers. Mind you that isn’t as hard as you think if you have the Australian Women’s Weekly Little Squares & Slices cookbook on hand

My friend Tammy makes amazing slices for her family of 5 children to pop into their lunch boxes and for after school snacks and this is one I am sure you will all love.

 


 Popcorn Butterscotch Squares

Prep + cook time 30 minutes (+ refrigeration)
Makes 24
Store squares in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Ingredients:-

• 250g (8 ounces) butternut snap biscuits
• 125g (4 ounces) butter, melted
• 395g (12 ½ ounces) canned sweetened condensed milk
• 30g (1 ounce) butter, extra
• 4 cups (40g) air-popped salted popcorn
• ½ cup (40g) toasted shredded coconut
• 185g (6 ounces) milk eating chocolate, melted

Method:
1. Grease 20cm x 30cm (8-inch x 12-inch) rectangular pan; line base and long sides with baking paper, extending paper 5 cm (2 inches) over sides.

2. Process biscuits until fine. Add butter; process until combined. Press mixture firmly over base of pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

3. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk and extra butter in a medium heavy-based saucepan; cook, stirring, over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until mixture is a caramel colour. Remove from heat; quickly stir in the popcorn and coconut.

4. Working quickly with wet hands, spread and firmly press popcorn mixture over base. Spread chocolate over slice. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set before cutting.

the-australian-womens-weekly-little-squares-&-slicesThe recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘little squares & slices’ cookbook.

I doubt there is a household in Australia that doesn’t have a copy of at least one of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks.

They have an amazing range of cookbooks that cover every type of cooking that you can think of. The recipes are always easy to follow.

Each recipe is clearly photographed so that you can see what the finished dish should look like. The recipes aren’t complicated and  because they are all tested before publication, they work – every time.

 

Healthy Home-made Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes – Couldn’t be easier

We both recently started making our own bread. One reason for this is that we are eating more and more organic foods and growing our own veges so making our own bread was just one more step towards knowing what we are eating. Commercial bread is full of additives and preservatives.  We know exactly what goes into our bread.

The bread recipe we use is from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking recipe book by Jeff Hertzber and Zoe Francois, which is available in both hard copy and kindle.  We have both, but I like to work from the Kindle app on the iPad.

Now what is so great about this bread recipe?

Well it takes only 5 minutes to make, there is NO kneading required and the mixture keeps in the fridge for around 14 days so you can just pull off a lump of dough to make a fresh loaf when you need it.

The book has around 100 recipes so that you can make different kinds of bread but we generally make the basic dough mix which makes enough for four 1 pound loaves.  Although you can double or halve the recipe to suit your family’s requirements, we find that the standard recipe works well for two to four people.

Master Recipe for 5 Minute Artisan Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (equivalent to 2 packets). I no longer use packet yeast but loose yeast granuals
  • 1½ tablespoons Kosher salt or other coarse salt
  • 6½ cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose (not strong)
bread-making-ingredients

bread-making-ingredients

Method:

Preparing Dough for Storage:

1.. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. With cold water it will need 3-4 hours.

2. Add the yeast to the water in a 5 quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket.  I use a large Tupperware rectangular modular mate container.

Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

adding-the-yeast

Adding the Yeast

yeast-added-to-warm-water

Yeast Added to the Warm Water

3. Mix in the flour and salt – kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula. Don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement.

Use-scoop-and-sweep-method

Use Scoop & Sweep Method

Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. I have just started using my Cuisinart hand mixer which also did an admirable job.

If you’re hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead, it isn’t necessary.You know the dough is ready when everything is uniformly moist, without any dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

stir-in-the-flour-into-the-yeast-mixture
Stir the flour into the yeast mixture
mixing-bread-dough

Mixing the bread dough

4. Put the dough aside to allow it to rise. Cover with lid (I just sit the lid on top of the container and don’t seal it otherwise it could explode from the trapped gases). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes as longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won’t harm the result.

bread-dough-rising

Bread dough rising

 

5. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.

On Baking Day:

1. You can bake this bread in a prepared loaf tim, tray, or whatever you’ choose to bake it in or on. I simply use a Pizza Stone. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with four. Pull up and cut of a grapefruit-size piece of dough (approximately 1 lb), using a serrated knife.

2. Hold the dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off – that’s fine, it isn’t meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.

stretching-the-bread-dough

Stretch the bread dough

3. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.

bread-formed-and-ready-to-rise

Bread formed into roll

4. Rest the loaf and let it rise in the form, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes. I use a small round board sprinkled with Polenta, which I find helps stops the dough sticking and helps it to easily come free when transferring it to the pizza plate.
Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That’s fine, more rising will occur during baking.

5. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

6. Dust and Slash. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.

bread-floured-and-sliced

Bread dough floured and slashed

7. After a 20 min preheat you’re ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won’t be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.

8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.

9. Eat with your favorite topping – yummo

baked-bread

Baked bread with a golden crust

Sliced-bread-enjoy

Sliced bread ready to enjoy

9. Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The flavour and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavour.

This is the standard bread. There are loads of variations – both savory and sweet – in the book. I also have the Kindle version of their Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.

Making bread has never been easier. Forget all the fuss and bother of kneading and resting the dough for hours on end, which is how my mother used to make her homemade bread. She would have loved this recipe.