Treat me: Rum and raisin ice cream

This week, in between re-telling the story of the nativity (“but Mum, why was the baby Jesus a boy? Can he be a girl!”), I have been reading The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate. In case you’re not familiar with this Margaret Mahy classic, it tells the story of a buttoned-down chap who is enticed away from his dull, everyday life by his sea-faring mother. It’s such a good read. Put it on your Christmas present list. I wouldn’t say the same for another book that was on high rotate here a couple of weeks ago – a flimsy yarn that saw the hapless Captain Pugwash in a standoff with a bunch of pirates over some chocolate smuggling. If your child makes a beeline for this at an op shop, point them in another direction.

Anyway, thinking about pirates and mulling over the December We Should Cocoa challenge, in which Choclette has sensibly chosen alcohol as the key ingredient, led to this ice cream. It’s not so alcohol-soaked that one scoop will send you off into paroxysms of piratical rumbustification, but I’d advise against giving it to children (even if their mothers are pirates).

Easy Rum And Raisin Ice Cream

Rum and raisin ice cream
No need for a fancy machine to make this ice cream – why, you could even make it in the galley of a galleon (as long as it had a freezer). If you’re not a fan of traditional Christmas puddings, this is a great do-ahead dessert. Freeze it in a large lined loaf tin (or even a cake tin), then serve slices with little tots of rum and chocolate sauce. If you are a fan of proper Christmas pudding – or even Christmas mince pies – then a dollop of this on top is a delectable alternative to brandy butter.

1/4 cup dark, smoky rum
1/2 cup raisins
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
500ml cream
70g dark chocolate, roughly chopped into pieces no bigger than a raisin

At least two hours before you’re ready to make the ice cream (and therefore at least eight hours before you want to eat it), put the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
When you’re ready to make it, beat the egg yolks, egg and sugar until pale and thick. Use electric beaters unless you have the arms of a sailor.
Drain the rum into the egg mixture (reserving the raisins), then add the golden syrup and beat again. Pour in the cream and beat until soft peaks form. Scatter over the raisins and chocolate and fold in. Pour into a plastic container and freeze for about six hours before eating. Makes about 1.3 litres.

Have a wonderful weekend, me hearties x

Christmas confetti salad

There have been two unexpected spin-offs from my post about delegating when entertaining over the festive season. First, two of the guests we were expecting for dinner on Saturday night cancelled their appearance. They claimed to be stuck in New York and unable to get back, but I have my doubts. Was it the email I sent suggesting they bring something?

Then, a few days ago, my mother-in-law sent me an email about Christmas. In the middle of what my colleague calls ‘a compliment sandwich’ (that’s when you disarm someone by saying something nice, stick the knife in, then say something nice again) she cleverly outsourced the cooking of the turkey and the dreaming up of some salad ideas. To me.

It didn’t take me long to realise that I’d been outplayed. Friends, I have so much to learn. But, after a weekend of thinking deeply about what to make, I’ve come up with something fresh, festive and extremely easy. Now I just have to delegate the making of it to my father-in-law.

Christmas Confetti Salad With Peppers And Pomegranate Seeds Recipe/Image Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Christmas Confetti Salad
Making this salad is the sort of job you can give someone who walks into the kitchen and says ‘what can I do to help?’ – on the basis that a) they have basic knife skills and b) you have delegated out all the other jobs, like washing dishes, setting the table and corralling the children/elderly relatives. As long as you’re not having to do all those other things, or have had a glass of festive bubbles, it’s quite soothing to stand still and do a bit of chopping. It’s great with ham and turkey and tastes great the next day when you need something cold and refreshing to eat. You could also pile little mounds of it into avocado halves for a appropriately red, white and green starter.

2 pomegranates
2 red peppers
1 small red onion
4-6 small radishes
half a telegraph cucumber
a small bunch of mint, finely shredded

Dressing:
a clove of garlic, smashed
a good pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sumac

First, make the dressing. Crush the garlic and salt together with a knife until it forms a paste. Scrape this into a small screwtop jar, then add the lemon juice, sugar and sumac. Shake together until well mixed, then add the oil and shake again. Taste for sharpness – add more oil or lemon juice as necessary. Set aside.
Cut the pomegranates in half and scoop out the seeds. The Ottolenghi-endorsed way to do this is to bang them with a wooden spoon, but I find this squirts juice everywhere. My preferred method is to winkle the seeds out with a knife.
Chop the rest of the vegetables into pomegranate seed-sized dice. Tip everything into a bowl. Pour over the dressing, scatter over the shredded mint and stir gently to combine. Serves eight as a side dish.

For more herby, salad-y goodness, you might like to check out Karen’s Cooking With Herbs round-up for December. If there’s ever a time of year to eat your greens, this is it!

Cooking with Herbs

Do you delegate out parts of your Christmas dinner preparations, or do you prefer to be in sole charge?

Treat me: Fruity snowballs

Last weekend, seized with a sudden desire to Do Something Christmassy, I made my Christmas mincemeat. I don’t know why I’d been putting it off, because it took all of about an hour to make (including a trip to buy some suitable alcohol to put in it).

I used this recipe, but augmented it with some finely chopped granny smith apple, a good amount of chopped almonds and a few slugs of amontillado sherry. I also dug out the remains of last year’s version and added that to the mix (with a bit more sherry for good measure).

The resulting mixture, heady with fruity, nutty (and somewhat boozy smells) has sat on the kitchen bench all week while I thought about what to do next with it.

Yesterday morning, after spreading some on my toast (surprisingly good, but the toast does need to be buttered), I had an epiphany while thinking about gluten-free things I could make for a coealic friend. These fruity, nutty (and ever so slightly boozy) balls are the result.

Fruity snowballs
The consistency of these will depend on what your fruit mincemeat is like. Be prepared to adjust quantities accordingly so the initial mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, but still sticky enough to pick up the coconut coating. You could also use finely chopped nuts instead of coconut.

150g fruit mincemeat
60g ground almonds
60g dessicated coconut, plus another 50g for rolling
finely grated zest of an orange
1 tsp Cointreau or 1/2 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until the mixture clumps. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls, then roll in the extra dessicated coconut. Put in an airtight, covered container in the fridge. Makes about 15, depending on how much of the mixture you sample first.

Have a great weekend, everyone. x

Treat me: Boozy figs

If you were beamed to earth from another planet at the moment you’d think all humans did was eat, drink and be merry. While the period between mid-November and early January is fairly intense on that scale, it’s pretty much always the season of entertaining at our house. And I love it, I really do, except for perhaps that tense 15 minutes just before the entertainees arrive and I feel in a state of complete chaos.

This year, with two fairly major entertaining events scheduled chez nous in the next fortnight, I’ve decided to take control. Firstly, I’m going to delegate a lot more (sorry, invitees, I understand if you want to pull out now) and secondly, I’m going to have something up my sleeve that I prepared earlier.

These boozy figs are an excellent do-ahead option at this time of year, whether you’re holding a soiree or you’ve been invited to one by someone like me who wants you to cross town with dessert in your handbag. The recipe is of unknown provenance – it’s out of one of my mum’s notebooks – and it is very simple. I’ve a hunch it is just the thing for this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by the ever-lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage (with able support from Kate at What Kate Baked) – in which dried fruit is the theme.

Boozy figs
You can whip these mulled figs together in five minutes before you go to work, then when you come home they’ll be all plump and juicy. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, serve them warm over a slab of posh vanilla ice cream., if you’re in the southern, add strawberries. If you’re really, really organised, put them in a lidded jar in the fridge and they’ll be good for several weeks.

400g dried figs, cut in half (use scissors)
500ml fruity red wine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 small orange, washed and halved
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 punnet of strawberries, washed and hulled (optional)

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and let bubble away for five minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. Then, either transfer to a bowl or jar, cover and put in the fridge. Or, if you’re planning to eat them in a few hours, add the strawberries before putting in the fridge. Serves six.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tea Time Treats

Treat me: Yoghurt Banana Fool

It’s not exactly on the scale of Grand Designs, but we’re currently planning a few changes here at chez Kitchenmaid and as a result, my office (aka the room of doom) is piled high with cookbooks destined for new homes. At least, I think they’re destined for new homes. I’m so horribly sentimental about some of them that I can’t bear to think of them languishing in op shops, unloved or (worse) discovered by the people that gave them to me to start with.

In the meantime, I negotiate my way past a pile of them every time I go to my desk. When ‘100 Dishes For Two’ fell on my toe yesterday, I decided it was fate. I was going to choose a recipe from it for this month’s Random Recipe challenge, then find it a new home. I think it was a joke present when we got married, along with ‘Cosmopolitan’s Guide For Living Together (Married Or Not)’, which I have recently regifted to a newly shacked-up friend. I was thinking I could regift ‘100 Dishes’ to her two, but on reflection I think this is the only decent recipe in it. Love may be blind, but it still has a sense of taste.

Yoghurt Banana Fool
This is very simple and surprisingly delicious. It also makes an excellent treat for breakfast, not least because you can pull it out of the fridge with a ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ flourish. Quantities below serve two – well, what would you expect from a book called ‘100 Dishes For Two’? – but can be easily multiplied.

2 small bananas
2 Tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
25g roasted almonds, finely chopped
4 pieces of crystallised ginger, finely chopped
150g Greek yoghurt
3 squares of dark chocolate, finely chopped

Mash the bananas, caster sugar and lemon juice together in a small pot. Bring to the boil over gentle heat, then simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the bananas are caramelised. Set aside to cool. Fold in the nuts, ginger and yoghurt, then divide between two stemmed glasses. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top and chill for at least 30 minutes, until ready to serve.

Have a great weekend, everyone x