Monday, 19 July 2010

lemon granita or sorbet

I eat it looking at this view from my hammock
On a hot day this ice will make you happy, it's softly sweet and has a refreshing bite. Actually it's a recipe for happiness in any weather, I have been known to eat it until my tongue goes numb. 

When made, this concoction may look like ice cream, but there is no milk in it. It uses a syrup and adds a tantalising teaspoon  of orange blossom water. You don't need an ice cream machine to make it either, you can freeze it in a container and as it freezes smash it up a bit, several times with a fork. Low tech is good.
3-3/4 cups water
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 T. orange blossom water
1-1/4 cups lemon juice
  • Put water in a pan with the sugar and boil together for a few minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. It doesn't take long - don't let it turn to caramel. 
  • Leave to cool and add orange blossom water and lemon juice. 
  • Stir well and pour into a fridge container or ice trays. 
  • Cover with lid or foil foil and place in the freezing compartment of the refrigerator, set at the lowest setting. 
  • As the ice freezes a little, mash it up lightly with a fork without removing it from the trays,  to reduce the size of the crystals. Repeat a few times at 1/2-hour intervals. 
  • Transfer from the freezer to another part of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. 
You can fill scooped-out lemon halves with the sorbet to serve. Or use bowls.

Serves 6. Or fewer if you are greedy.

This is something you can serve in small amounts between courses, to clean the palate. Only if you are feeding people with vast appetites of course.

You can make an excellent slushy with this sorbet. Put the ice in a glass and add a shot of water, stir and consume using two straws in the traditional manner.

Also delicious with a ginger biscuit - recipe to follow.

I use an ice cream machine and it makes a beautiful smooth white sorbet. It is also kind enough to roll it into four portions, that look like ghostly tennis balls.

If you keep it frozen for more than a day then it'll need to soften longer before eating, or you will break spoons.

I also make it with alcohol - two tablespoons added to the ingredients is plenty, if you use more it will make the whole less icy. If I use whisky I leave out the flower water, with rum and vodka I leave it in.

Monday, 12 July 2010

University diet

When I started this blog it was after I had found my oldest child gazing happily into a well-filled fridge on a recent visit home. She explained that until she left home for university she hadn’t realised how much shopping was needed to keep it stocked up. It’s the porridge pot principle – your world-weary teen may cast a cynical eye over most fairy tales, but once they’re buying their own food they find that their faith in the pantry’s endless bounty gets tested.

Five kids, limited budget and restricted access to supplies, coupled with a touch of sadistic control, meant that access to food was restricted when I grew up in the 1970s. We were allowed three biscuits a day, there was no eating between meals and one sweet after lunch at the weekend was a longed for treat. In addition, meals had to be eaten, even if what was on the menu wasn’t to your liking. These days I know of just two families who restrict their kids food intake between meals, and neither of them is mine. I decided it was one battle I wasn’t going to take on.

When I left home I specialised in preparing a range of quick, cheap and tasteless meals. Pasta sauces made from soup mix, a speciality. My food obsessive parents ensured that these ‘naughty’ foods appealed to me. Flavour was secondary to MSG or effort. I progressed, through poverty, to conjuring up a dish that made the most of what food was consistently left to rot in my fridge. A saggy head of celery and a pint of milk with lots of pepper, cooked down with some seasoning, made a tasty slightly nutty pasta sauce. I may revisit this recipe in time, right now I am still shuddering at the thought. Other than that it was onion sauce all the way, truly delicious with baked potatoes and other veg. Occasionally I paired it with liver, as a treat.

So, this blog was started in an effort to teach my teenage daughter to cook. It was her idea, when she was living in halls, and wanted to enjoy some tasty homemade food.

The starting point was vegetable dishes, starter cooks are mostly not ready for meat. Aside from family classics, including caramel carrots, cabbage and bacon and a coconut dhal she’s also interested in onion sauce.

Taking tips from my younger self, economy of time, money and effort are the greatest influence on the recipes tackled. I also started trying to limit the need to wash up.

Imagining she’ll be happy to have the same meal twice in a row, or may invite others to join her to eat, so the recipes are for two, or can simply be scaled down.

one pan coconut dhal

Coconut dhal
This dhal is a staple in our house, it is the first recipe I wrote out for my darling daughter, it's cheap and easy to make and delicious. I included the ingredients when I sent a care package after she told me she'd been living on pot noodle alone, along with a savoy cabbage and a cake. 

Equipment needed
Orange split lentils
1 onion
1 carrot
Curry powder
Fresh coriander
1” Creamed coconut
Salt, pepper
1 Tomato

Optional extras
or 1 apple

Wooden spoon
Medium sized saucepan
Chopping board
Peel onion and chop up roughly
Peel carrot and slice up
Take one or two cloves of garlic and crush under flat of knife and peel
Take 1 mugful of lentils, put in pan
Add two generous mugfuls of water or stock to pan
Bring to boil and simmer over low heat

You may see some scum start to bubble up – just remove it with the spoon – if you don’t everything will still taste fine

Add chopped onion and carrot
Add 1 tsp curry powder, pinch of salt, pepper and tomato
Cook over low heat until the lentils are getting soft, about 15m
Add creamed coconut, check that there is still enough liquid, if it’s getting dry add some more water and cook 5m more

Add chopped coriander leaves and stir through – check seasoning and add salt if needed

You might like to add a squeeze of lemon

Eat with rice or on its own.

If you want to make this into soup use three mugfuls of water.

My aunt cooks this and eats it with rice. Any leftovers she puts in a pot and then eats spread on toast as pate. Sounds a bit weird? I thought so, and ate it out of politeness, only to discover it is really delicious. She chops everything up much finer than me. Just a little tip.