Hebridean carrageen pudding with rose water and cardamom

I have recently been busy processing seaweed to make the traditional Hebridean carrageen pudding, with an aromatic twist.  I was very lucky to receive a gift of this red seaweed (Chondrus crispus) freshly picked on South Uist by our very own resident Hebridean professional forager, Fiona Bird. I have been trying to write this post for some 2 weeks, but due to a work trip away and other commitments, I am only just getting round to it now.

I met Fiona a few weeks ago at a soirée on South Uist to celebrate the publication of her new book dedicated to foraging, ‘The Forager’s Kitchen’. Suitably impressed by the diversity of recipes within and some of the delightful nibbles on offer incorporating foraged produce, I ordered a copy which I received last week.

Fiona gave me some wild garlic that evening, foraged in Angus.  Unfortunately, despite being pretty much ubiquitous throughout most of the UK,  it is more challenging to find  on the Uists and I am not inclined to collect it unless it is super-abundant as it is elsewhere. The wild garlic was hence a rare treat which I cooked as a purée with venison.  More on that recipe another time.

The Forager’s Kitchen – a  book recommendation

foragers kitchen and carrageen 001

If you have an interest in foraging in any way, this book is a must to add to your culinary collection. While it is true that foraging is currently in vogue, in reality this is not a passing fad and it has always been there as an underlying component of our food heritage.

Many high end fine dining restaurants currently feature foraged items within dishes on their menus. This book is therefore a timely reminder that making food with foraged ingredients need not be exclusive, complex or challenging but is an accessible and health-giving addition to the cooking experience.

Fiona’s infectious enthusiasm and knowledge for her subject couldn’t but help but make any reader want to have an excuse to get outdoors and see what bounty is on the doorstep. What better encouragement does one need than free food and a comprehensive compilation of recipes to assist the cook to develop new recipe ideas?

Fiona, as well as being an experienced cook and forager (she was a Masterchef finalist) is also clearly passionate about food and its associations with family. Her personal anecdotes within the book and warm and engaging writing style help to bring the foraging experience alive.

The introduction provides essential and sensible guidance about where, when and how to forage, words of wisdom about misidentification and associated risks and a useful kit list for aspiring foragers.

The book is separated logically into 5 chapters covering flowers and blossom, woodland and hedgerow, fruits and berries, herbs and sea / seashore. No matter where you live, there is a chapter that will capture the habitats around you and help you seek out the free bounty within.

There is more than adequate background information on species and where to find them, how to forage for and use them.  There are interesting snippets of folklore associated with many of the species, notably plants. It was lovely to be reminded of the Scottish name for rosehips, ‘itchy coos’. As children, I remember we would tear the hips open and squeeze the seeds down the backs of each other’s school shirts, a prank guaranteed to make anyone itch all afternoon.

The additional ‘Wild Notes’ dispersed throughout the book are a lovely touch, providing the reader with tips to help them develop different ways to expand use of foraged food and broaden their repertoire. Although the cover states there are over 100 recipes, these notes pack in many more recipe ideas.

The layout makes the book very visually appealing and there are many fantastic photos.  The outdoor images in particular cannot help but lure the reader outside to explore local woodland, or in my case, seashore.

There are a lot of excellent tips and ideas that I would not have thought of before as well as many ingredients I had not previously considered using e.g. Scotch quail eggs with sea lettuce – delicious idea. There are many intriguing and inventive uses for the natural sweetener, sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata), from smoothies and sorbets to tempura.

What I really like about Fiona’s approach is that it is relaxed, unconstrained and encourages culinary creativity.  You can take her ideas and run with them to develop recipes and interpret the way nature’s larder can be used in your own way. That way, you will have the freedom to enjoy the outdoors while collecting some of your own food during which time you can contemplate what you might produce, inspired by the environment around you.

For me, foraging adds to what lies at the heart of everything that is great about food and cooking – it is a voyage of discovery, with twists and turns provided by intriguing ingredients that can be combined in infinite combination.   Foraging also helps me to get outside my culinary comfort zone and I enjoy nothing more than the revelations it may bring. Hence, this is an appropriate time to introduce my new friend Chondrus crispus.

‘The Forager’s Kitchen’ by Fiona Bird is published by Cico Books and can be ordered online via major internet booksellers.

Fiona also provides regular updates on her foraging activities on Facebook at The Forager’s Kitchen and Twitter (@TheForagersKitc).

I purchased this book and my review in entirely independent.

Carrageen – a very traditional pudding

If it wasn’t for Fiona’s generosity in providing me with freshly foraged carrageen, I’m ashamed to say it might have taken me a lot longer to get round to using this traditional Hebridean ingredient.

carageen raw

I should also thank one of her children who kindly left it at a drop off point i.e. the school in Benbecula.  Thankfully the receptionists didn’t take against keeping the well wrapped weed until I got there to collect it!

This attractive red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, called carrageen here in the Hebrides (also known as Irish Moss, pearl or jelly moss) grows on rocky coasts around the UK and Ireland and around the northern Atlantic. It is a small branched purplish-red seaweed that grows up to about 20 cm but its appearance can vary significantly in both colour and size, depending on levels of exposure to waves and turns quite green or yellow, being bleached in strong sunlight.

It grows in a wide range of habitats from exposed shores to sheltered estuaries. It is found lower down on the shore from the mid intertidal to sub tidal zone, so the best time to find it is at very low tide, or preferably on a spring tide. The Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN) is a tremendous resource for information on all aspects of the ecology of Chondrus crispus and other marine flora and fauna around the UK coasts.

Carrageen is part of the Gigartinaceae family of seaweeds, some species of which have been used historically as food additives all over the world for many hundreds of years. They are harvested commercially, notably in the Philippines most recently and have a multitude of applications in the food industry.  This is because seaweeds from this family have a high content of unique polysaccharides called carrageenans.

Carrageenans bind strongly to food proteins so are particularly useful as thickening or gelling agents to add viscosity to dairy products such as ice creams and desserts. They are added to processed meats as a stabiliser, help to clarify beer and are a vegetarian or vegan alternative to gelatine. They are also used in shampoos and toothpaste and have many other non-food related applications.

Traditional carrageen pudding

Carrageen pudding is still regularly offered as a local delicacy in the Outer Hebrides and in my experience tends to be served with a very soft jelly-like set, much softer than pannacotta.   The dried seaweed is traditionally soaked to soften it, then boiled in milk, strained and sugar is added, perhaps along with other flavours such as vanilla  or whisky.  I have also been served it with soft fruit added.

dried carageen

my dried carrageen

I have only ever used dried carrageen, however, being given fresh carrageen by Fiona was an exciting prospect.  I wanted to experiment with making a carrageen pudding using the fresh weed, but also to dry the rest for future use, much more the normal practice.  A small handful of dried weed (about 10g) is usually adequate to set a pudding with about 600 – 700 ml of milk.

Drying carrageen

Carrageen can be sun-dried, but with our wet weather, I opted to use the oven.  Fortunately, my oven can be set to pretty low temperatures. Here is how I dried the carrageen to preserve it for future use:

  • Carefully rinse the carrageen in several changes of cold water to remove the salt (and the array of small creatures like shrimps and snails).
  • Spin the seaweed in a salad dryer to remove as much moisture as possible, then rub it with a tea towel.
  • Spread it out on a couple of wire racks and put the racks in a very low oven (60C) for about 7 hours.
  • Store in an airtight container or plastic bag, ensuring the seaweed is totally desiccated before doing so.

Using fresh carrageen

Following a browse on the web and through a few seaweed-related books, I was quite surprised to find there is not a lot of information out there about using fresh carrageen for cooking.  A few tweets to Fiona and a bit more info from her gave me a bit of confidence to experiment with making a pudding using the fresh weed. I knew I would need a much larger amount when using fresh than dried to get a set.

I decided a 2 : 3 ratio of fresh weed to milk and added 100 ml of double cream to the strained mixture at the end, i.e. a 1 : 2 carrageen to milk/cream ratio for the finished pudding, along with flavourings and colour. I wrapped the seaweed in muslin and floated the bag in the milk as it warmed. This amount serves 4.

I wanted to add some of my favourite aromatic flavours: rose water and cardamom to the pudding as I have only experienced traditional flavourings. I am delighted to say the pudding set was quite firm, more akin to pannacotta and the texture smooth.  The rose water and cardamom worked very well with the silky textured pudding.

Ingredients

200g fresh carrageen, washed (or 10g dried)

300ml whole milk

100ml double cream

1/2 tsp rose water

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

40g caster sugar

optional extras:

a handful of brambles or other soft fruit

a few drops of natural red food dye

rose petals

a few chopped toasted almonds

Method

  • Put the milk in a pan and add the muslin wrapped seaweed bag to the pan.
  • Slowly bring to the boil and allow to simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Press down on the muslin bag frequently with a potato masher or similar to extrude as much of the carrageenan thickener from the seaweed as possible.
  • Pour the mixture through a sieve, into another pan, again, squeezing muslin to extract as much carrageenan as possible.
  • Add the double cream and sugar, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit before adding the cardamom, rose water and red dye.
  • Pour into ramekins and allow to cool slightly before putting in the fridge to set.

I topped the puddings with some defrosted brambles I picked last autumn but I think they did nothing to enhance the pudding’s flavour and only served to confuse the palate, so would leave off the unnecessary garnish next time – I can put my precious few remaining stocks to better use.  Similarly, the rose petals look pretty, but the aesthetics outweigh their enhancement of the dish – they are a bit dry and papery!  I topped with almonds, just as a change from my usual pistachio choice with this flavour combination, but pistachios would work even better.

carrageen 043 carrageen 046

Mission accomplished, I am now going to watch the second in the BBC wildlife series ‘Hebrides: Islands on the Edge’.  I’m disappointed to report this great series is only being broadcast in Scotland but hope some of you can pick it up on iPlayer or other web resources. It really is magnificent.

Biscuits with Bartok 6 – Ma’amul

The concept of the weekly provision of a sweet treat for the musicians continues, allowing me to move away from the typical biscuit or cookie to something a little more out of the ordinary, Ma’amul.  Indeed the title of this series of posts is increasingly becoming a misnomer.  Bartok has been superseded in recent weeks by Telemann, the prolific late Baroque German composer – and there are a growing number of musicians.

There is something delightful and unique about sitting at my desk, working, listening to  music ebb and flow against the backdrop of the outdoor sound scape of birds, waves and wind. I hope it will eventually get warm enough to open the door so I can hear the pieces more clearly. Eventually, but for now it is still very cold, the wind swinging indiscriminately from south west to north and maintaining defiant persistence over the last 3 weeks.

Few seeds are yet planted outside, the soil temperature has dropped from 12 to 8 C.  I did try to plant some parsnip seeds, but they kept blowing out of the narrow drill.  I resorted to sowing small sections a few centimetres at a time and quickly covering them to ensure they stayed in the ground.

Dining out on fishing

Despite having more time indoors than I would normally care for at this time of year, I have had very little time over the last week to manage even one small blog post. Not only that, unusually, we have been out for dinner twice over the weekend.  Often, eating out is at houses of friends, but this was real dining out, on Uist. Imagine!

The annual dinners of North Uist Angling Club and South Uist Angling Club always occur back to back in the same weekend.  Friday night, we enjoyed a very well executed meal at Langass Lodge; smoked haddock risotto with samphire, hand dived scallops with cauliflower puree and lemoncello parfait with berries.  It really was spot on for a set meal for 35 people.  As current Chair of NUAC, I had to deliver a short speech, which was no hardship, and being Chair afforded us an invitation to the South Uist Club dinner the next evening at Grogarry Lodge, South Uist.  A tasty and comforting meal of salmon pate, venison and vegetables (significant portion and seconds offered!) and cheesecake was enjoyed and we were made to feel very welcome by the members of the club.

Sandwiched in between these dinners was our annual pollack competition on Loch Strumore, North Uist  when we attempt to catch pollack on the fly.  Always a challenge, the potential for some monster fish and a huge fight.  Two years ago we had a bathful of fish to deal with as a result and the winning angler caught an 8 lb beast that shredded his hand.  Alas, no monsters this year.  The weather deteriorated over the course of the day to intolerably freezing. I came home with a fish, as did The Man Named Sous, the only two pollack caught all day.  Another fishing trophy for my Dearest then as his was slightly bigger than mine.

pollack

As ever, when late spring arrives (the weather is allegedly supposed to improve about now), we have started to see our first visitors, from near and far.  I don’t expect therefore that I will get a huge amount of time to blog over the coming week, although my draft posts will continue to pile up (I have been experimenting with seaweed too – more on that in the next post). Tomorrow, we have a Swiss friend coming for dinner, musicians and more visitors the day after, who knows who else by the weekend. I will seize the moment to discuss the delights of ma’amul.

Ma’amul

Ma’amul (various spellings, commonly also Ma’amoul) is an appropriately windswept and interesting (as Billy Connolly would say) sweet experience. The innocuous looking shortbread-type biscuit conceals the surprise of a crumbly and aromatic exterior, which then relinquishes a sumptuous, sticky dried fruit and nutty rose-scented interior.  A definite curveball if you have not tried these before.

This is one of the most popular Arab cookies, eaten across the Middle East, particularly during Ramadan. They are rolled and stuffed with varying ingredients, commonly walnuts and dates, but also pistachios, figs and almonds. Ma’amul can be hand-rolled or pressed into decorative wooden moulds.  This reminded me of pressing shortbread into a wooden mould depicting a thistle, which I remember doing as a child, although, I don’t actually have that mould, so hand formed my ma’amul.

Texturally, I was looking for something different and I knew the main constituent ingredient of semolina would deliver an unusual textural experience while the flavours satisfy my continued love of all things aromatic, with the addition of orange blossom water and rosewater. The textures also extends to preparation and making ma’amul is a very pleasant quite unique tactile experience. Here I use a variation of the recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem (I know, again, but I have been abstaining for a few weeks), altering the filling to include pistachios and figs instead of dates and replaced cinnamon with my preferred ground cardamom.

Ingredients

350g semolina

40g plain flour

pinch of salt

180g unsalted butter, cut into 3 cm cubes

2 tbsp orange blossom water

1 tbsp rose water

icing sugar for dusting

Fruit and nut filling:

150g pistachios

75g walnuts

45g dried figs

45g caster sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 1/2 tsp rose water

1 tbsp orange blossom water

Preheat the oven to 190C

Method

  • Put the semolina, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix.  Add the butter and work it to the texture of breadcrumbs.
  • Add the orange blossom and rose waters and 1/2 a tablespoon of water to bring the mixture together into a ball.
  • Knead on the surface until completely smooth, about 5 minutes.  By now it will smell refreshing and aromatic and you will get the sense of the distinctive texture.
  • Cover with a damp cloth and rest for about 30 minutes.

Now make the filling:

  • Put the pistachios, walnuts, figs, sugar and cardamom in a food processor, pulse then process until finely chopped but not completely ground.
  • Add the orange blossom and rose waters and pulse to produce a coarse paste.

Moulding your ma’amul

If uniformity of biscuits matters to you (as it does to me), it is always handy to have some very accurate scales to measure out each piece of dough before rolling the finished item.  I use jewellery scales. I know such scales are often associated with clandestine activities (I do not mean weighing jewellery-related items), but my original use for the scales was innocuous, albeit slightly obscure.

I bought these many years ago as a tool to weigh birds that I was ringing, unfortunately, I can no longer find the time to ring and the scales have been recycled into the kitchen.  These were ideal for accurately weighing small passerines such as goldcrests and wrens. Goldcrests weigh only 5 -7 grams, so 5 goldcrests are the same weight as the dough for just 1 biscuit, what a random fact!

Don’t be put off by the convoluted preparation description – the dough is easy to manipulate and reshape if you put your thumb through it the first time. Ma’amul can be decorated in many ways but I have opted for simply pressing across the tops with a fork.

Ma'amul cooking 001

Method

  • Get a small bowl of water and keep you hands moist to stop the dough from cracking.
  • Pick up a bit of dough about the size of a walnut, it should be about 25g, roll it into a ball between your damp palms.
  • Cup the dough in the palm of one hand and press the centre with the thumb of your other hand to form an indentation.  This is similar to producing a clay thumb pot, forming a space in the centre of the dough for the stuffing.
  • The sides of the ‘pot’ should be about 5mm thick and 2.5 cm high.
  • Keep in your palm and grab about 20g of the filling and place it in the ‘pot’.  Pull up the dough around the filling to enclose it within the dough and roll gently into a ball again.

Ma'amul cooking 003

  • At this stage, I rolled the balls into slightly tall cylinders so I could press them down with a fork on the baking sheet. Place each on a baking sheet lined with silicone sheet or parchment paper.
  • Press down gently  on the top of the biscuit with a fork to create a pattern across the top of each biscuit.

Ma'amul cooking 005

  • Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, until cooked, ensuring the biscuits take on no colour.
  • Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired, before serving. Enjoy with a strong espresso.

Ma'amul 026Ma'amul 021Ma'amul 044

Rhurbarb and rosewater cardamom crumble

It is the end of the traditional rhubarb forcing season and to mark this season’s end, I have a recipe with a twist on the traditional rhubarb crumble. The flavours North Africa and the Mediterranean have been added, with the curveball of rosewater to surprise the palate.

I must admit that my forced rhubarb is not Hebridean in origin, but at least in justification, I am supporting an important and seasonal piece of British food history and our food industry by buying it. It hails from the famous Rhubarb Triangle, an area of West Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell famous for producing early forced rhubarb in the darkness of forcing sheds. So historically important is this area for growing forced rhubarb, it was awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the EU in 2010. The stems of forced rhubarb are crimson, delicate and sweet, quite a different animal the equally delightful outdoor thug that will be gracing the gardens and fields of the UK from now (well, if it warms up).

Of course, had the builders not dug out the foundation for the workshop while we were away on holiday, I would have had time to rescue our rhubarb. Alas, I have to start again by growing new crowns.

Crumble is so simple and delicious and of course, rhubarb crumble is hard to beat. Yes, it is patently a fairly rustic affair, but for something that tastes divine and takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare and 20 to cook, who could possibly resent the time spent to produce such cuddlesome comfort food. My time is very stretched just now, so crumble recipes are ideal for such busy phases.

To further bolster my argument, what better excuse to indulge in a comprehensive choice of delightful accompaniments of the dairy variety: ice cream, cream, custard, crème patisserie, crème fraiche or yoghurt. it really would not be the same without one of them, would it?

Rhubarb and rosewater cardamom crumble

I prefer to retain the sharpness of the rhubarb, so I don’t add much sugar at all, especially since the pomegranate molasses add sweetness.  This also applies to rosewater – don’t add too much or it becomes unpleasantly overpowering.

Preheat the oven to 180C

rhubarb crumble 3

Ingredients

Rhubarb:

250g rhubarb (it need not be forced)

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1/2 tsp rosewater

For crumble:

150g plain flour

50g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, cubed

75g pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

1 tsp ground cardamom

rhubarb crumble 1

Method

  • Gently poach the rhubarb in a pan over a medium heat with the sugar, water, molasses and rosewater until it softens but still retains its shape and some texture.  This should take about 10 minutes for thin forced rhubarb.
  • Transfer the rhubarb to a gratin dish and sit aside for an hour to infuse the flavours together before topping with the crumble.
  • For the crumble, simply pulse then blitz the ingredients in a food processor, except the pistachios, but only enough to make them into a breadcrumb texture and no more.
  • Roughly chop the nuts and mix through the crumble before topping the rhubarb with the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C. Serve with your accompaniment of choice, I favoured single cream on this occasion.  The Man Named Sous went for home made Turron Ice cream, which worked too, apparently.

rhubarb crumble 2

Rosewater delectation: Pistachio and rosewater meringues with Turkish delight ice cream

I adore floral flavourings; elderflower, lavender, orange blossom and jasmine, but my favourite of all is rosewater. Rosewater has a long and illustrious culinary history. It is a stalwart of Middle Eastern and North African cooking, also featuring in Indian cuisine. When used with restraint, rosewater gives a characteristic flavour and alluring fragrance that takes you straight to the edge of the Med.

Rosewater is the leftover liquid or hydrosol remaining when rose petals and water are distilled together for the purpose of making rose oil, so it is a bi-product. It is also relatively cheap and easy to obtain from delis or wholefood shops and has a reasonably long shelf life, so it is always handy to keep in the store cupboard and a little goes a long way.

Bulgaria produces an estimated 85% of the world’s rose oil and hence is also a key producer of rosewater. I was lucky enough to visit this beautiful country a couple of years ago.  It was a conservation trip to look at how the Bulgarian government manages areas of high conservation value in national parks and other protected sites in Bulgaria, focussing on the Stara Planina in the Balkan Mountains, central Bulgaria, particularly the Central Balkan National Park. The beech, oak and hornbeam forests are stunning, as are the high alpine meadows.  These habitats hold impressive numbers of rare species of invertebrates, higher plants and fungi and I was fortunate to see a diverse range of each.

Coincidentally, driving south from the Balkan Mountains, we travelled through the Rose Valley. This valley is world famous for growing roses and for centuries has been the centre for rose oil production in Bulgaria. We stopped near the town of Kazanlak, centre of the rose oil industry and walked through the rose fields at the peak time for harvesting, early in June.

Bulgarian rosefields in full bloom

Bulgarian rosefields in full bloom

The intoxicating scent of the beautiful pink damask roses was everywhere. Honeybees covered the flowers, pollen baskets full, contributing to honey production, another industry that had formed a common sense symbiosis with rose oil production.

Rosewater is a versatile flavour and can be used in savoury and sweet dishes.  It is more aromatic and flavoursome uncooked, but still retains the essence of its aroma and character if cooked.

I have been including rosewater in numerous recipes recently, experimenting in order to get the flavour balance right.  Having some good quality Turkish delight in the house (rose flavour, of course),  I decided I wanted to make Turkish delight ice cream, one of my favourite flavours, but always such a rare find in all but the most comprehensively stocked gelaterias.

My expectation was that this would need careful addition of a little rosewater to the cream, as the Turkish delight was pretty pungent with rose flavour.  To balance this, and again having a look through Ottolenghi, I found the perfect accompaniment – pistachio meringues, a hint of rosewater included.

This is also a thrifty strategy since ice cream uses copious amounts of egg yolks and meringues egg whites, so the recipes marry economically too. The pairing of a cooked and uncooked rosewater sweet treat commenced.

Pistachio and rosewater meringues

This recipe is from Ottolenghi, his first book.  The Ottolenghi outlets in London are famous for their meringues, so after looking at the images, and anticipating capturing some of my favourite flavours within, there was no point in resisting…

The first thing the recipe states is that a good free-standing mixer is essential.  Following the demise of my 1960’s Kenwood Chef, I was without such a gadget.  I didn’t have much choice but to get on with it using my handheld mixer, which was pretty awkward, but worked.

The recipe suggests dolloping the meringue onto the plate of crushed pistachios and rolling it around.  This sounded like something you would need to be well practised at to master, and I didn’t even attempt it as I could only imagine how inelegant it might look.  I opted for the safer option of sprinkling / throwing the pistachios on / at the meringue after spooning them onto a baking sheet!

I cut the recipe ingredients by half.  I thought the quantities were excessive (10 egg whites) and by halving, I could neatly use almost all of the egg whites left over from making the ice cream. This made about 12 moderately large meringues.

Heat the oven to 200oC initially

Turn down to 110oC for meringues

Ingredients

300g caster sugar

150g egg whites (about 5 large eggs)

1 tsp rosewater

30g finely chopped pistachios

Method

  • Place the sugar on a baking sheet lined with parchment and heat in the oven for about 8 minutes until hot and dissolving at the edges.
  • When the sugar is almost ready, on high speed,  mix the egg whites until they start to froth, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the hot sugar slowly over the egg whites.  Once all the sugar is added, add the rosewater.
  • Whisk on high speed for 10 minutes or until the mix is cold.
  • The mix should be stiff and silky.  Taste to check flavour and add more rosewater, to taste.
  • Turn the oven down to 110oC and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sticking it in place with a bit of meringue mix.
  • Dollop the meringue onto the paper.  Yotam recommends the size of an apple, mine were a bit smaller, about apricot size. They expand a lot during cooking so leave enough space between them.
  • Crush the pistachios using a food processor and sprinkle over the meringue.
  • Place in the oven for about 2 hours.

The meringues should be firm outside and a bit soft in the middle.  They will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

Pistachio and rosewater meringues

Pistachio and rosewater meringues

Turkish delight ice cream

After much deliberation, last Christmas we gave a present to selves of an ice cream maker.  The Cuisinart professional model we have has a built-in compressor, so is pretty straightforward to use and no need to freeze the bowl beforehand.  You can make this recipe without an ice cream maker, it just requires regular hand churning of the mix as it sets, which can be a time-consuming commitment.

Cuisinart ice cream maker

Cuisinart ice cream maker

The Man Named Sous would not mind me saying that he is pretty obsessed with ice cream. I must admit, I was fairly ambivalent to most and pretty selective about what flavours I consume and from where.  Home made ice cream is a revelation and extremely decadent. It should be accompanied by some sort of portion limiter and health warning as it contains shocking amounts of egg yolks, fat (in the form of cream) and sugar.  Oh well, everything in moderation, you only live once, and other similar excuses for indulging oneself.

For this recipe, I used a basic custard as I would for many other ice creams.  I favour the recipe and methods used in ‘The Perfect Scoop’ by David Lebovitz, so have adapted from that. Surprisingly, this marvellous book does not have a recipe for Turkish delight ice cream or my other all time favourite flavour pistachio (to be visited another time).

Makes about 1 litre.

Ingredients

250 ml whole milk

150g caster sugar

500 ml double cream (!)

pinch of salt

6 large egg yolks

1 tsp rosewater

natural red food dye (optional)

8 pieces of Turkish delight, cut into small chunks

A little icing sugar

Method

  • Warm milk, sugar and 250 ml of cream and salt in a pan and remove from heat once sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour the remaining 250 ml of cream into a large bowl and set a sieve over the top.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture onto the egg yolks then scrape back into the pan.
  • Stir constantly over a medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
  • Pour the mix through the sieve onto the cream add the rosewater and a couple of drops of natural red food dye (if using) and leave to cool and refrigerate.
  • Once chilled, churn in an ice cream maker for about 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, chop up the Turkish delight and roll the small pieces in some icing sugar to coat them so they don’t clump as you add them to the ice cream. Fold the pieces into the ice cream when it is ready, just before you freeze it.

The meringues and ice cream worked well together and would probably have been enhanced by the addition of fruit.  Mango, plum, peaches or strawberries would work, either fresh or in a coulis.

Next aim is to make my own Turkish delight.

Turkish delight ice cream with pistachio and rosewater meringues

Turkish delight ice cream with pistachio and rosewater meringues