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Category Archives: Ice Cream

Dinner by Heston, Melbourne, and other Melbourne Food Delights

I recently visited Melbourne, Australia’s southern foodie destination. It’s fair to say that in 48 hours my travel companion Ms D and I sampled quite a few notable Melbourne food institutions.

The Cellar Bar, the late night wine bar of its big sister Grossi Florentino next door, was a brilliant spot to eat in the city, on the pavement, after a show. Their spaghetti cacio e pepe was outstanding!

The next morning we lined up at Lune Croissanterie in Fitzroy, for their famous croissants. I had also wanted to try their kouign amann pastries, and cruffins, the first of which was created by Lune Croissanterie in 2013. I was disappointed that neither was available on that day, as I would have liked to taste as a comparison, as I have tried my hand at making my own kouign amann and cruffins, see my post. The croissant was very good, with excellent lamination, but worth traveling from Sydney for? Hmmm.

Croissant making on the premises.

The second breakfast that morning was at East Elevation, in Brunswick, a warm, rustic cafe in a huge open warehouse type space. The food was good! And they make chocolates too!

Some breakfast offerings at East Elevation.  Me – Ricotta Pancakes with Peaches and Berries; Ms D – Coconut and Lemon Tapioca

One of the main events of the trip was to dine at Maha, a sophisticated take on Middle Eastern cuisine in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. Ms D is a huge fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, even more so than me, so we were both looking forward to the experience. While really enjoying the banquet style dishes, the lighting was so dim you couldn’t really appreciate the visuals of the food properly. I would be keen to visit again, to see more! So no photos for this post.

Sunday lunch was the much anticipated visit to Dinner by Heston, one of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants that is inspired by historic British gastronomy. Dinner, as defined on the Dinner website, is “the main meal of the day, taken either around midday or in the evening. A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event”.

Located at the Crown Towers in Melbourne, one could be forgiven for being turned off dinner or even lunch, on arrival, as the garish surrounds of a casino are not conducive to refined dining. However, once in the restaurant itself, calm and dignity prevailed,  as we were ushered to a large and comfortable table window-side, with a view over the river to the city.

I have photographed the menu for the day and the dishes we ate. The dishes are so intricate, clever and multi faceted, that describing them in any detail in this post would be a poor substitute to actually enjoying them. Which I did. Absolutely. While there are photos of Ms D’s courses, I only sampled a little of her dishes, being too intent on eating my own. However I believe she enjoyed her courses too.

First course for both of us – Salamagundy

Second course. Me – Chicken Cooked with Lettuces; Ms D – Slow Cooked Pork Belly

Third course. Me – Cherry Isle Bar; Ms D – Tipsy Cake

For me, ice cream is the Queen of Desserts, so the highlight of Dinner By Heston was the “extra” dessert, nitrogen ice cream made at the table Heston style! Our waiter explained that the custard base was given texture by the addition of sour cream, and the Madagascan vanilla really gave a rich, vanilla hit. We could choose from a variety of toppings – I chose freeze dried raspberries, which I use a lot in my own cooking, and popping candy.

The visual spectacular with clouds of nitrogen, as the waiter deftly poured the flasks of custard and nitrogen was amazing, but the taste of the ice cream was even better. Rich and velvety, with a soft texture, the ice cream had a proper consistency, and made for a heavenly eating experience. A fantastic way to end the “dinner” and our Melbourne food excursion.

 

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Christmas Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo

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If you’re looking for cold pud ideas for Christmas lunch , this is what I did last year. Jamie Oliver had come up with a delightful frozen ice cream bombe using seasonal fresh cherries (at least for us in the Southern Hemisphere). But you could use frozen cherries if you are living in northern climes.

Cherries + cheesecake mixture =  cherry cheesecake semifreddo bombe, spectacular when frozen in a domed bowl and then turned out. Utterly delicious to eat…

Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries because they’re seasonal for us in Australia, cheesecake which is always a winner and semifreddo for all us ice cream lovers!

It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps. It took me an hour or so on Christmas Eve, then freezing time overnight. It was ready to go for lunch on Christmas Day. I made these changes to the original recipe:

I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries)
I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!
Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

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Eating out in Adelaide – From Freakshakes to Fine Dining

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Recently I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Adelaide, South Australia. I was attending a conference over three days, a perfect amount of time to sample some of the delights of Adelaide food. The trip fulfilled its promise: a really good conference with some great papers presented, and the opportunity to indulge in some lovely food experiences.

So what is the significance of the title of this post? Well there was fine dining, and then there was THE FREAKSHAKE. As a lover of all things sweet and creamy, this writer, having discovered this truly weird drink/food, has been keen to try one. Freakshakes, sadly most probably an ephemeral food trend, are milkshakes with all sorts of edible goodies piled on top and lots of syrup and sauce flowing over the top of the glass jar.

Somehow they are quite hard to find in Sydney, so when researching dining in Adelaide, I googled freakshakes and discovered St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream and Dessert http://st-louis.com.au/. As you can see from the photo I was not disappointed!

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I had the Peanut Butter Brownie Shake Peanut Butter Nutella milkshake, topped with a warm chocolate brownie and chocolate coated wafer balls. Drizzled with pure melted milk chocolate. My partner in culinary crime and academic adventure, the quirky Ms R, had the Salted Caramel Waffle Shake Salted Caramel milkshake, topped with warm Belgian Waffle, dulce de leche and sweet ’n salty popcorn.

But the highlights of the stay were discovering some really good restaurants, from chic to adventurous, all within a walk or an Uber drive from our city hotel. And there were a couple of great breakfast cafes, one – Stumps Bar and Kitchen, that looked like its name, ie a bar  – but which produced an amazingly beautiful plate of ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, lemon curd and cream with edible flowers… the photo at the top of the post says it all!  Here is the link: http://stumpsbar.com.au/

Press* food and wine, where we had our first dinner, is aptly named as the restaurant is situated in the old printing works of the newspaper The Adelaide Advertiser. A huge industrial space which suits the down to earth yet inventive cooking style. The restaurant specializes in offal. That option was not for us – we stuck with some great vegetarian options. A salad of ricotta balls and radicchio was fresh and pungent and a truffled mushroom & taleggio pithivier with cauliflower purée was unusual and delicious. However the Bombe Alaska with a peanut brittle and banana ice cream frozen centre was amazing…and it came to the table alight! Here is the link to the restaurant: http://pressfoodandwine.com.au/

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Next, tucked in a laneway reminiscent of Melbourne’s well known city lanes, was Peel St. The dining space is casual, with an open kitchen and bar side dining. That’s where we sat, watching the kitchen action and the prep of the beautiful dishes. The food was great, some of the best dishes we ate in Adelaide. There were two standouts.  Banana blossom chicken, chilli jam and coconut salad with peanuts and crispy shallot was an Asian inspired dish of deliciousness, with contrasting textures and intricate flavours. My photo, unfortunately, is not included as the low lighting didn’t do the dish justice. Dessert, which I did photograph, was a peanut parfait with chocolate mousse, brulee toffee banana and meringue cigars. It tasted as good as it looks! This is the Peel St link: http://www.peelst.com.au/.

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On the last night we visited Africola, a very cool eaterie with the focus on African food. As their website says “compact, simple restaurant with a western soundtrack, for African-inspired vegetables, grilled and smoked meats, flatbreads, pickles and natural wine.” We sat at the bar here too, literally a metre or so from the cooking and prep stations. We watched them cooking our flatbreads on the flame grill, which came to us with some smoky dips. A half cauliflower – cooked on the grill – came seasoned and dressed. A nice way to eat a sometimes predictable vegetable. This is the link: http://www.africola.com.au/

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Another tasty breakfast was Cafe Troppo, where sustainability, community and environment are key themes. Ms R had a traditional breakfast of seasoned scrambled eggs and gourmet bacon on local, hand-made sourdough. I was keen to try the stone-milled whole grain flour waffles, pressed to order, with Paris Creek whipped cream, bacon and thyme honey. Delicious waffles, but I’m not convinced about sweetened whipped cream with bacon… Link here: http://cafetroppoadelaide.com/

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Another nice foodie experience to mention in passing – the fabulous Adelaide Central Market – where one particular patesserie counter caught my eye with their salted caramel doughnuts. Ms R and I had to share one, of course!

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And on the third and last day of our conference, our hosts took us on a cultural tour to the Adelaide Hills, where we had lunch at Deviation Road Winery, which specializes in paellas cooked in enormous paella pans shown in the photo. Here is the link: http://www.deviationroad.com/

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My short sojurn in Adelaide was rewarded with some memorable dining experiences. It’s clearly a city with an exciting and varied food scene, relaxed vibe, and very friendly and knowledgeable service. Go visit!

 

 

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Jamie Oliver’s Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo

 

 

 

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I found this recipe just before Christmas and it seemed the perfect solution to finding a new yummy dessert for Christmas lunch. I already had a sensational Christmas pudding – more of that in another post – and I was looking for something cold and sweet and a bit different.

Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries because they’re seasonal for us in Australia, cheesecake which is always a winner and semifreddo for all us ice cream lovers!

It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps. It took me an hour or so on Christmas Eve, then freezing time overnight. It was ready to go for lunch on Christmas Day. I made these changes to the original recipe:

  • I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries)
  • I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

 

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Mascarpone Ice Cream Terrine

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What to do with lots of mascarpone? On the weekend I made a frozen creation for friends who had excess mascarpone, using a variety of delicious things folded through the cream cheese. The predominant colour vibe was pink and green, using raspberries and strawberries, meringue and pistachio praline.

Very easy to make, and you can include whatever you fancy as the fold-through ingredients.

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Ingredrients

1 quantity of pistachio praline

2  x 250g tubs mascarpone

200g condensed milk

1 tbls orange liqueur

Handful of fresh raspberries and/or strawberries

Meringue pieces (we bought green and pink meringues – any colours will do)

Method

To make pistachio praline, scatter a handful of pistachio nuts on piece of baking paper on a baking sheet.

Heat 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Be careful not to stir the sugar – tilt the saucepan to help melt the sugar. Cook for several minutes until the sugar turns a deep caramel tea colour and take off the heat. Quickly pour over the pistachios.

Leave to cool and harden. When completely cold, place the praline in a ziplock bag and bash into pieces with a mallet or rolling pin. Make sure you have small fragments and praline powder as well as some large shards for decoration.

Combine the mascarpone and condensed milk in a bowl using a large spoon. Add the orange liqueur. If the mixture is too stiff, you can loosen it a little with some pouring cream.

Add the fold-through ingredients, being careful not to break up the berries.

Line a rectangular plastic container with cling film. Spoon the mixture into the container. Cover with the overhanging cling film. Freeze for several hours or better still overnight.

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Turn out onto serving platter, removing cling film. You will need to leave for a few minutes to soften as the terrine will be hard and difficult to cut.

Serve with the praline shards, berries and crushed meringues.

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Salted Praline Ice Cream

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This is an incredibly easy recipe to make – no-churn ice cream in minutes, plus  of course the obligatory freezing time!

Whipped cream, egg yolks and egg whites, sugar and flavourings and you have the basis for a scrumptious ice cream. In this case, the flavour is salted nutty caramel in the form of crushed praline. The sea salt offsets the toffee sweetness really well.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs, separated
7 tbsp caster sugar, divided in half
1 tbsp boiling water
1 1/2 cups cream
Pecan praline, crushed into small and larger pieces

Method

Line a medium sized plastic container with cling film or 4 ramekins or small molds.

Beat the egg whites until frothy then add  3 1/2 tblsp of sugar and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy and of a meringue like consistency. Remove the mixture to another bowl. Using the original bowl – no need to clean –  beat the egg yolks, remaining 3 1/2 tblsp  of sugar and boiling water until the mixture is really thick and pale.

In a third bowl whip the cream till it holds soft peaks.

Gently fold first the egg yolk mixture into the cream, then the egg white mixture, being careful not to knock too much air from the mixture. Lastly fold in the crushed praline pieces.

Pour the ice cream mixture into the container or ramekins, and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer, and gently unmold onto a plate, peeling off the plastic  wrap.

Serve as individual ice creams or as scoopfuls from the larger mixture. Decorate with shards of praline.

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 Pecan Praline

Heat 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Be careful not to stir the sugar – tilt the saucepan to help melt the sugar. Cook for several minutes until the sugar turns a deep caramel tea colour and take off the heat. It’s a fine line between toffee that’s cooked and toffee that’s burnt! *

Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt flakes and pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Quickly scatter over a handful of chopped pecans.

Leave to cool and harden. When completely cold, place the praline in a ziplock bag and bash into pieces with a mallet or rolling pin. Make sure you have small fragments, larger pieces, and some large shards for decoration.

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*Tip for cleaning the toffee saucepan: fill the pan with water and heat on the stove top till just boiling. Turn off heat and leave for a few minutes – the hardened toffee should hopefully dissolve making the pan easy to clean.

 

 

 

 

Jamie Oliver Christmas Pudding Bombe

Christmas Pudding Bombe

Christmas Pudding Bombe
This is Jamie Oliver’s recipe. My version included half rum and raisin ice-cream with vanilla ice-cream. In retrospect the rum and raisin ice-cream was too sweet, all vanilla would work better.

Ingredients
• 1 litre good-quality vanilla ice cream
• 1 kg panettone
• 125 ml vin santo
• 3 heaped tablespoons raspberry jam
• 25 g shelled pistachios
• 75 g tinned sour cherries, drained
• 40 g glacé clementines (or other glacé fruit), thinly sliced
• 2 clementines, 1 peeled and sliced into rounds
• 200 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), bashed up

Method
Get your ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready. Line a 2 litre pudding bowl with 3 layers of cling film. Use a serrated knife to slice four 2cm thick rounds off of your panettone then cut them in half. You’ll have some panettone left over, so keep this for another time. Arrange six of the slices in a single layer around the bowl and push them down if they overlap. Drizzle some Vin Santo around the sponge so it soaks in, then use the back of a spoon to smear the jam over the sponge. 

Add 1 tub of ice cream to the bowl and use the spoon to spread it around in a thick layer. Sprinkle in the pistachios, cherries and glacé fruit then layer the clementine slices on top. Add the other tub of ice cream. Spread it out, working quickly so the ice cream doesn’t completely melt. Put the rest of the panettone slices on top of the ice cream, drizzle over some more Vin Santo then cover the bowl tightly with cling film. Press a plate down on top to press everything down, then freeze overnight, or longer. 

When you’re ready to serve it, put the bashed-up chocolate in a bowl and get that over a pan of simmering water on a really low heat. Leave the chocolate to melt while you unwrap your amazing winter bombe and carefully turn it onto a beautiful serving dish. Add a few gratings of clementine zest to the chocolate and when it’s nicely melted, pour it over the top so it oozes down the sides and looks delicious.

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