24 July 2012

Candied-Sour-Cherry Yoghurt Ice Cream

This works well with yellow or black cherries but sour cherries make this an especially refreshing ice cream. 
I was a little short of sour cherries, so I used black cherry jam for decoration. It tastes nice but is a little sweet in comparison to the ice cream.

What you need:

  • 500 g sour cherries, pits removed
  • 200 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small glass of Kirsch (optional)
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 100g caster or fine sugar
  • (optionally 20 g dextrose with 80 g sugar: dextrose is supposed to make the ice cream smoother)
  • 1 small glass of Amaretto (bitter almond liqueur)
  • 350 ml Greek yoghurt

What you do:

  1. To candy the sour cherries, pit them make sure to catch the juice, then put them in a pan with the sugar, the lemon and the kirsch and boil until the mixture sets. A dash on a chilled plate throws folds when you push your finger into it (see “Caroline’s Sloe Jelly”).
  2. Allow to cool, then purée half in a blender, save the rest.
  3. In the meantime warm the cream and add the sugar, stirring until it is completely dissolved , then add the Amaretto.
  4. Stir in the yoghurt and the puréed cherries and mix thoroughly.
  5. Chill for about an hour in the freezer, then add the rest of the candied cherries, keeping a few for decoration.
  6. If you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture in and let it churn until you have a slightly soft ice-creamy mixture. 
  7. Put it in the a container and freeze. (If you haven’t got an ice-cream maker, you need to whisk the mixture several times in about 2 hour intervals to keep the ice cream smooth and to break up ice crystals, which would form otherwise.)
Serve with a sprig of lemon balm or peppermint.

15 July 2012

Crostini Toppings: Olive Paste and Smoked Trout with Pernod Topping

Summer is not always the time for cooking. I mostly enjoy an insalata Caprese (slices of tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and a balsamico/olive oil dressing, a perfect combination) or a Greek Salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, feta and olives with oregano or rigani if I can get it), and, mostly, what really goes well with a salad of this kind is fetunta (roasted slices of bread rubbed with garlic and douses with a generous shot of olive oil. And fetunta is just a small step away from crostini.
Last summer I provided a recipe for my sundried tomato topping ( Here are two more:

What you need: Olive Paste

  • 300 g olives (for instance 200 g black Calamata, 100 g green)
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chilli, chopped (minus the seeds if you want it less spicy)
  • a bit of olive oil

What you do

  1. De-pip the olives, chop the garlic and the chilli.
  2. Chop the mixture up in the blender, adding a bit of olive oil for smoothness.
  3. If you add some anchovies before you put the mixture in the blender, you have a Provencal tapenade.
  4. This costs considerably less than all commercially available olive pastes and you can do it exactly to the taste.
This paste is a jam jar with a lid can be kept in the fridge for some time.

What you need: Smoked Trout topping

  • 2 smoked trout fillets
  • 1 dl crème fraîche
  • 4 tbsps Pernod (or pastis)
  • 1 tsp (or less) dried chilli
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce (mild)
  • Cajun spice (see earlier postings)
  • 1 sprig of tarragon chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • ½ pepper, peeled and diced for decoration

What you do

  1. Mash the trout fillets, mix with the crème fraîche, the pernod (you may not put all of it in just yet) and the soya sauce.
  2. Season with chillies and Cajun spice.
  3. Add the chopped tarragon and the garlic.
  4. Blend until the mixture is quite smooth. If it is too spicy, add a bit more cream.
  5. Season to taste and perfume with more Pernod if needed.
  6. For colour sprinkle peppers over the top.
This topping, which has a lovely blend of aniseed and smoked fish, should be eaten relatively quickly.

Final remark

Both toppings taste great on roasted slices of bread with a bit of garlic rubbed on before the pastes are spread generously.

07 July 2012

Aubergine and Tomato Bake

I had a dish in a Ticinesi Grotto the other day, layered aubergines and tomatoes, an ideal summer lunch, light and lukewarm. They did it in a pizza oven, which I don’t have, but this is how I tried to recreate it at home. The pictures show the aubergines done in a frying pan; the other day I tried it again and did it under the grill. Both methods work but I marginally prefer the second one. 



What you need

  • 2 – 3 largish aubergines (for a main dish for three to four people; mine was made as a side dish, hence the smaller amounts in the pictures)
  • 5-6 tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • salt, pepper
  • Berbere (Ethiopian spice mix, optional)
  • Herbs (lovage, basil, Thai basil, oregano, thyme, sage) chopped
  • shavings of parmesan or pecorino romano

What you do

  1. Slice the aubergine lengthwise, season with salt and pepper (and Berbere); leave to sit for about 5 to ten minutes as some of the juice of the aubergines will drain off this way.
  2. Drizzle generously with olive oil and in a single layer roast in a baking tin or fry in a frying pan until they take on a lightly brownish colour.
  3. In the meantime dip the tomatoes into boiling water until the skin splits, then skin and slice (or dice).
  4. Coat an ovenproof dish with olive oil, layer it with aubergine slices, then add a layer of tomatoes, with a portion of the garlic and herbs.
  5. Add further layers and make sure you end up with aubergines on the top.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the aubergines are quite soft.
  7. Cover with the shavings of the parmesan.

This dish can be done in advance and tastes nice hot, lukewarm or cold with some freshly baked baguette.