Aaah halva, my favourite childhood sweet, I’ve never had a big sweet tooth but give me a tub of halva and there’d be nothing left.
I’ve mentioned before my love of all things sesame, especially tahini.. mmmmm.. Previous tahini posts date a while back, tahinopita the unforgettable halva cake from Cyprus. Tahini makes so many things taste amazing, chickpeas being one of them (aka houmous).
So halva in ice cream makes perfect sense! I know it’s not quite ice cream season yet, but you can eat this indoors with the heating on and you’ll be fine. It came about as I was rooting around for something to make with some spare time, knowing I have been neglecting my beloved blog. Then in it came to me, I found a pot of halva buried in my cupboard, brought to me personally all the way from Cyprus by my dear mum.
I have cream, milk and eggs., sugar, tahini, and some other bits and bobs. Yay! At last I’m making halva ice cream!.
.. And then eating too much of it when it keeps melting as I try to photograph it at 9am.. oops.
Ps .. if you attempt this.. freeze the bowl! (silly me.. I should know better)
Halve Ice Cream
300ml double cream
300ml full fat milk
1 vanilla pod
3 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
100g halva, cut into a small dice
Black Caramel Sesame Snap
75g black sesame seeds
25g roasted pistachio, warm still
a few edible dried rose petals
Weigh out the sugar and whisk with the egg yolks in a large bowl until thick and pale, set aside.
Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds into a saucepan with the milk and cream, heat until just before boiling. Immediately pour out half the mix into the yolk mix whisking continuously to combine. Then pour the mixture back into the pan, on a medium heat, stirring continuously for about ten minutes until the mixtures thickens into a custard consistency, a crème anglais.
Have a bowl of ice ready with a clean bowl set in it. Once the custard is thick, this is the tricky part, if you over cook it will start to curdle, so take it off as soon as you think it’s ready. Pour the custard into the bowl, whisk in the tahini. After about 20 minutes pour the custard into a suitable container, lay a piece of cling film over the custard to stop a film forming. Cool completely in the fridge.
Use an ice cream machine to churn your ice cream until it is semi set, it should be very thick and creamy, stir through the halva and place in a pre frozen container and freeze. When you’re ready to serve remove from the freezer 10 minutes prier to soften up a little.
For the caramel snaps, heat a pan on medium heat. Add a little sugar to the pan, once that starts to melt keep adding sugar slowly, scraping down the edges of the until you have a deep golden caramel, add the honey, this will bubble, keep stirring and add the sesame seeds and pistachio, stir until you have a deep caramel colour.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread blobs of caramel to your size and liking, this will set quickly so you’ll need to be fast, sprinkle over the rose petals. Allow to cool, and careful not to touch the sugar if is very hot and will stick to you and burn!! Ouch.
Curry Leaves are my herb pick of the month. Especially after returning from the most amazing trip, and culinary adventure to Indonesia. Here we were spoilt rotten by Mem’s family being pampered and eating the best food for almost a whole month! We came back with a suitcase of treasures and ingredients. Two items I’m so glad we have with us to fight off Indonesian eating withdrawal complaints; a delicious jar of sambal (not like the jarred stuff you buy here), and the most amazing shredded dried fish ‘gold dust’ (my title). Now these two items may not be for everyone, searing hot sambal and smelly dried fish flakes, with toasted coconut, shredded kaffir lime and chili.? Maybe not for everyone but, heaven for me :D Sprinkle this on eggs, rice and veg and you’ll/I’ll be happy.
So here I’ve tried to recreate a dish we had, with toasted coconut as well. Here it’s sweetened with honey and coconut sugar. A simple recipe but really effective and flavourful thanks to the powerful natural aroma of the curry leaves and the sweetness of the coconut.
And just so you know curry leaves, like all herbs and spices are also very good for you. So you see, flavour and health go hand in hand, yay!
Native to Indian and Sri Lankan they’re integral to these countries and a lot of South East Asian cuisine. Curry leaves work as a natural tonic within the body and are highly recommended for their medicinal purposes as well as their flavour.
A little nutritional information.. Eaten on a regular basis they can cancel the effects of free radicals released by the metabolism that are damaging to some organs, particularly the liver.
The antioxidants in curry leaves help control good and bad cholesterol levels. They help to control blood sugar levels, in turn helping to control diabetes.
The presence of antioxidants, vitamins and alkaloids in them promotes a healthy digestive system.
Extracts of curry leaves have also been shown to reduce the side effects of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy cancer treatment.
Curry leaves have high quantities of iron, phosphorous, vitamin C and vitamin and vitamin A, important in maintaining good eyesight, and lastly curry leaves, some studies have shown, help to promote weight loss..
Stir Fried Prawns with Honey Chili Coconut and Curry Leaves
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 dried Kashmiri chili, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, deseeded and quartered
20 large king prawns, de veined
80g shredded or grated fresh coconut or dried
handful curry leaves
1 tbsp coconut sugar
Heat a large frying pan and add 1tbsp of the coconut oil, add the garlic and fry stirring for 1 minute until it just begins to colour and take out straight away. Transfer to a plate or tray with kitchen roll to crisp up and drain off some excess oil.
Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and add the coconut, curry leaves, Kashmiri chillies and palm sugar. Fry this for a few minutes while it begins to brown add the honey, stirring for even browning and to stop sticking. Once the coconut is a deep golden brown and evenly coated remove from the pan into a dish.
Add more oil if needed, add the prawns to the hot pan, once they are very almost cooked add the garlic and half the coconut. Heat through, and mix well.
Transfer onto a serving dish and sprinkle the rest of the coconut on top. Serve with steamed rice, a vegetable side and sambal if you like!
Beetroot’s in season!
And this is good news for us all..
It’s such a versatile vegetable, roast, steam, boil, puree, raw, sweet and delicious in everyway.
As well as being tasty and good looking, beetroot is really good for you!
Firstly beetroots have a cleansing effect on the liver, perfect for this time of year. They contain special types of pigments called betalins which help support the detoxification of the body, by stimulating certain enzymes that work with unwanted toxic substances to be neutralised and excreted. Which is also particularly useful throughout December.
Beets are also great for boosting stamina and making your muscles work harder, (this will come in handy January when we’re all down the gym trying to shed that Christmas roll). They contain potassium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins A, B6, C and folic acid, essential for normal tissue growth.
It has powerful antioxidant properties which have been shown to help reduce blood pressure, which is associated with heart attacks and strokes.
Beets help the body utilise calcium, they contain soluble fiber, helping to lower cholesterol, they also help to stabilise blood sugar levels.
So here you go a delicious, easy, pretty and versatile salad.
Bittersweet Mixed Beet Salad
3/4 mixed beetroot
1 sweet potato
1 tbsp honey
1 ruby red grapefruit, segmented
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 small bunch coriander, half chopped and half picked
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds , toasted
pinch of poppy seeds
salt and pepper
optional sliced red/green chili
Juice from the segmented grapefruit
2 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
3-4 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
Clean your beetroots but leave whole and unpeeled, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and submerge the beets. Cook until tender for about 30-40 minutes, testing with a small knife.
The skin will come off easily once cooked but slightly warm so once cool enough use a small knife to chop the rough ends off and peel away the skins.
Sliced into wedges and place the different coloured beets in separate bowls, the purple beetroot with colour the other beetroot if you mix them all up now. It will still taste great but not look quite as pretty.
While you’re beetroot are cooking you can prep the rest of the salad. Segment the grapefruit. Do this by using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off the fruit, stand it up and use the knife to take the skin and pith off working from top to bottom. Then carefully use the knife to go between the membranes and take out the segments of the grapefruit. Do this over a bowl so you can save the juice.
Set aside the segments and make the dressing. To do this use the juice, add the honey and garlic, and slowly whisk in olive oil. Season.
To caramelise the pecans, heat a heavy based pan, add the pecans and toast on a low heat for 5 minutes, then add the honey to coat, leave for a further couple of minutes and turn out onto a chopping board. Leave to cool, roughly chop and set aside.
Once all your components are ready mix everything except the purple beetroot, half of the coriander leaves, and seeds. Arrange the dark beets at the bottom of your serving plate and then arrange the rest of the salad on top garnishing with the leaves, and seeds.
Enjoy as a side dish with your main course, as a light lunch or starter.
This will go really well with some feta crumbled over, I added a dollop of taramasalata and some rocket, Mem added a boiled egg and some rapeseed aioli, both delicious additions.
A pink fish like salmon or trout would go really well with an extra grate of horseradish.
I also serve a similar salad with the addition of fennel alongside a spicy ceviche or Mexican marinated prawns.
So many options..you just have to give it a go!
*toasting seeds .. Do this is a heavy based pan, keeping an eye on them and shaking now and then to get an even toasting. It will take just a few minutes and once they begin to change colour they will turn quickly so be careful not to burn them!
I’ve decided to make something a little different to the usual food we’re seeing and eating at this time of year. A refreshing light, healthy and delicious change to the usual.
I’m a big noodle fan but it’s not something I feel that confident writing recipes and posting about very often. This recipe however, I had to share with you. Black rice noodles are a little different, and sooo tasty! Great just simply cooked and drizzled with sesame oil, a little seasoning and a little chili for those chili heads out there. One of my favourite morning snacks when working in the kitchen at Terre a Terre, nice and fresh and ready for the day. ;)
This is quick and easy to make (even though it looks kinda long). You just need to track down the ingredients, which shouldn’t be too hard. I know for sure you can get all of this at Wholefoods, but missing a Wholefoods, a lot of supermarkets and Asian supermarkets stock these ingredients,. The only thing you may have trouble finding is the black rice noodles which you can get a lot health food shops.
The miso I used organic brown rice miso but any good quality dark miso will work, the lighter the miso the sweeter it is.
Serves 2 as a starter of light meal or 1 hungry main course
80g black rice noodles (one third of the packet)
6 king prawns , peeled and deveined and halved lengthways
handful of your favorite vegetables, I used baby corn, Brussels sprouts and shitake mushrooms this time
handful mixed dried seaweed salad
5 radishes, sliced
2 spring onions sliced
half red chilli sliced
small bunch Thai basil or coriander
1 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
Ichimi Togarashi (Japanese chilli flakes) to
2 tbsp brown rice miso
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 inch ginger, finely grated
1 ½ tbsp mirin
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
Cook the noodles in a big pan of boiling water, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick. They’ll take about 5 minutes, but keep an eye on them because they’ll overcook easily. Once cooked drain under cold running water, shake out and mix with a little sesame oil to stop them sticking.
While the noodles are cooking rehydrate your seaweed by covering in cold water and leaving for ten minutes. Make your dressing by mixing together the miso, ginger, garlic, mirin and lime, slowly pour in the sesame oil and rapeseed oil while mixing to emulsify and set aside.
Poach your prawns by bringing a small saucepan of salted water to just before boiling, when small bubbles start appear on the bottom of the pan add the prawns and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the prawns turn pink. Drain and set aside.
For your vegetables sliced into bite size pieces, here I used baby corn which I sliced diagonally ½ cm pieces and steam fried* in a hot pan for a couple of minutes, so they are still crunchy. Do the same with the Brussels sprouts, but here just trimming and cutting in half. And the shitake mushrooms, trim the ends, slice and cook with a dash of rapeseed oil until just cooked.
Add these to your mixing bowl with the noodles, radishes, sliced spring onion, reserving a little for garnish, your red chilli, half your prawns, seaweed, and mix through the dressing. Add your herbs and mix through with a splash of soy sauce, taste and adjust soy and lime to your liking. Garnish with remaining prawns, spring onion, a drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkle of Ichimi Togarashi. And a wedge of lime.
*Steam frying is explained in my previous blog post; Brussels Sprouts with Bite