COFFEE, CARDAMOM & ORANGE BLOSSOM ICE CREAM

Please don’t kid yourself. Ice cream is an excellent choice in the wintertime. It really always is a good idea. 

This recipe came about one morning when I was drinking heaps of much needed coffee. After several cups and due to time progressing, my consumption dwindled and the coffee became cold. That didn’t stop me from downing the last little sip (yup, I knew it was going to be cold and yup I knew I was going to wince) and that’s when I noticed that this particular coffee had a hint of cardamom to it, that I hadn’t noticed when my mouth got scolded for trying to wake up my body faster than possible. My analytical gene couldn’t let that be a moment of only curious joy – I had to research. 

Sadly for me (but not for the birth of this recipe) I didn’t really need to research, seeing that owning this book makes knowledge about flavour matching a breeze. According to the book the Bedouin way to prepare coffee is to grind coffee beans and cardamom together – even adding in a bit of orange blossom water. I could get down with that. But I would much rather drink my coffee traditionally black and instead have an ice cream for dessert. The result is this well rounded, kind of grown up, delicate dessert that would be lovely served after a simple meal.

The recipe is completely hassle-free as it is a parfait-style ice cream, needing no attention once put in the freezer. Just remember to attend to your enjoyment when eating.


COFFEE, CARDAMOM & ORANGE BLOSSOM ICE CREAM

1/2 strongly brewed coffee, hot
7 cardamom pods
1-2 tablespoon orange blossom water

4 egg yolks
70 g powdered sugar
2,5 cups heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

  • Start by crushing the cardamom pods with the side of a knife. Put into the hot coffee and let infuse for at least 1 hour. Strain.
  • In a bowl whisk together egg yolks and powdered sugar until light and airy – about 5 minutes.
  • Add the (now cold) cardamom-infused coffee and the orange blossom water to the yolk mixture and stir to mix completely.
  • In a large bowl whip the heavy cream to just before stiff peaks.
  • Take a couple of spoons of the whipped cream and carefully fold it into the yolk mixture.
  • Then carefully fold the yolk mixture (now with a bit of whipped cream) into the rest of the whipped cream until just incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into a container and freeze for several hours or overnight until frozen.

Remember to thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Kimchi and thoughts on trial & error

There is probably much to be said about trial and error. Not from me. Other than trial which equals error also equals see you again, never. Now, I’m not a quitter, and some things just have got to go right, even though it only generates failed attempts, and so I will power through. However, when it comes to cooking – I just don’t have the patience for a pancake batter that sticks to the bottom of the pan and what parts are cooked are strangely sponge-like. My (frustrated) thinking being that this means, pancakes just is not meant to be. I will abandon the idea, although not happily.

But then there are times when I make something quite inedible and I know exactly what it is I have to fix to make the dish into something really great. It’s pretty much that I added too much or too little of a certain element, and in those cases I have the patience. Like I had with this kimchi which initially turned out to be a fish sauce vessel made from cabbage – not enjoyable and definitely not edible. So I made another batch, cut the disrupting element out altogether, and as predicted it came out perfect and balanced. 

As it turns out I do have some things to say about trial and error. This strange little contradictory ramble is just to say that if you let go of preconceived ideas about perfection and incorporate a little error, it will benefit you and your learning curve immensely. 

Lecture aside, I use few ingredients and a very low-key preparation method. It is beautifully deceiving – it makes for some really crunchy, savory, fresh and honest kimchi that has taught me more than the process of making it, and I guess that is food for thought.


KIMCHI
makes 1 large jar

1 head of Chinese cabbage
10 cups of water
80 grams coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon cane sugar
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (2 inch) piece of ginger, minced
4 spring onions, sliced
8 tablespoons Korean chili powder (gochugaru)

DIRECTIONS

  • Wash and trim, if necessary, the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half and then either cut strips of about 2 inches thick, and cut the strips into 1-2 inch pieces OR cut the halved cabbage in thin boats. I like to do a mixture of both. Either way, discard the hard bottom. 
  • In a big bowl, whisk together the water, salt and sugar until completely dissolved. Add in the cabbage. To make sure the cabbage is completely submerged in the brine, place a plate with something heavy on top. 
  • Let stand at room temperature for 5 hours.
  • Meanwhile, mix the chili paste, in another big bowl, by combining the minced garlic and ginger, sliced spring onions and the chili powder.
  • When the cabbage has been soaking for 5 hours, drain and wash thoroughly to remove the salt. Squeeze off excess water and pat dry.
  • Add the cabbage to the chili paste bowl and mix it with your hands. The key here is to really put your elbows into it, mixing and squeezing to make the chili paste get into every nook and cranny.
  • Pack the kimchi into a glass jar and press it down hard to avoid any air (at some in point the process, there will be air pockets formed, but don’t worry – it’s the bacteria doing their job) and make sure that the chili paste rise over the cabbage, so as to seal the mixture. Cover the glass jar and let stand at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on your climate. It takes me about 2 days, when I start to see bubbles. At that point taste the kimchi for ripeness. It should be crunchy and slightly fermented in taste. Then transfer the glass jar to the fridge. You can eat it right away or let stand undisturbed for 5-10 days for further development in flavor.

It keeps several weeks in the fridge.

Pears poached in rose water and elderflower vinegar

I am not really a dessert kind of person (I will contradict this statement throughout the course of this blog – many times) seeing that I will choose fat and salt over sugar any day. Another reason is my fear of unexpected things; despite my background in chemistry and biological processes I do not enjoy making a fancy dessert just to find out, just as I am about to serve, that somewhere along the process I made a crucial mistake by whisking X amount of minutes instead of Y amount which leads to the complete deflation of said dessert. 
That being said, I am not immune to the lure of a delicious dish of sugary comfort. SO what I will most likely do is make desserts that are more like cooking and that lets me check in along the way. As with these poached pears.

Poached pears are such an easy dessert and it will garner awe that far exceeds the time and effort spend. I wanted these poached pears to chime in with the increase in temperature and feel of spring approaching, so the poaching liquid is made from flowery and perfumery rosewater and also an elderflower vinegar for acidity. Ginger is added for a kick and a fat fat fat vanilla pod (I used Madagascar bourbon) to bring it all together.

I finish it all off with a spoonful of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt, and then pour over the reduced poaching liquid.

Although this recipe is 2 servings you can easily double the recipe by doubling the amount of pears, but only increase the poaching liquid by 25-50% as this recipe makes a lot in itself – and the pears need not be fully emerged in the liquid.


PEARS POACHED IN ROSE WATER AND ELDERFLOWER VINEGAR
makes 2 servings

1 (½ inch) piece of ginger
1 vanilla pod, divided (see directions)
1/4 cup elderflower vinegar
1 tablespoon rose water
½ cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 big, ripe but firm, pears
A little lemon juice
2 tablespoons whipped cream
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

DIRECTIONS

  • Peel and chop the ginger in small cubes.
  • Halve the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out seeds, reserving half the seeds for the whipped cream/yoghurt topping. DO NOT discard the pod.
  • Combine ginger, vanilla seeds + pod, elderflower vinegar, rose water, water and sugar in a small saucepan – bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 9-10 minutes until the simmering bubbles are a bit thicker than they were in the beginning, but still being fairly watery.
  • Meanwhile, peel the pears, quarter them and remove seeds and stalk. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them to prevent them from browning.
  • When the poaching liquid has been simmering for 9-10 minutes, add in the pears and let simmer for 15 minutes. You can turn over the pears after 7 minutes, but I didn’t find it necessary.
  • Make the topping while the pears simmer: mix whipping cream and yoghurt together with the reserved vanilla seeds.
  • Check that the pears are done – they should be soft and easy to break with a spoon, but not mushy. Divide the pears on two plates to cool off. Put the saucepan back over high heat to reduce the poaching liquid: 5-10 minutes, depending on the desired consistency. I did 5 minutes, which made it pretty runny still. Strain.
  • To the plated pears add a big dollop of cream/yoghurt, then spoon over the strained poaching liquid and serve. 

Baked Blue Corn Tortilla Chips + Guacamole

I am just as guilty riding the taco-wave as the next guy. I even got an encyclopedia on the subject for my birthday, because my boyfriend knows me that well (and also really want tacos?). One of the building blocks of making a good taco is, unsurprisingly, good tortillas. Where I live, in Denmark, it is impossible to find corn tortillas without the addition of wheat. I have tried making my own with hasa marina and a tortilla press. While the ingredients are few and cheap, and the process somewhat quick, I can’t seem to get them right – something to do with heat. Until I get the process down, I hail my favorite tortilla pusher COOL CHILE CO.

I usually buy a crazy amount to make it worth the delivery costs and seeing that I don’t eat 80+ tortillas in one sitting (never mind that I would most likely be able to), I need to store them in the freezer in batches of 4-12 for easy meal times. However well food will store in the freezer, after a certain amount of time it just isn’t that interesting and so to use up the tortillas (and make room for a fresh delivery) these homemade tortilla chips are easy to make, really tasty and freakishly crispy even hours after making them.

I bake mine, not because I don’t appreciate deep frying stuff, but because I don’t appreciate the oil stench for ‘just’ a batch of chips. Also, I make these when I need a quick snack, not to clean up my kitchen. Go ahead and fry them in some neutral oil, then send me a bag!



BAKED BLUE CORN TORTILLA CHIPS
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes one medium bowl (1-2 servings)

12 (10cm) blue or regular corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1 tsp olive oil, divided
Sea salt, to sprinkle
Smoked paprika, to sprinkle
To serve: Guacamole (recipe below)

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat your oven to 350 fahrenheit/175 degrees celsius.
  • Lay out your tortilla wedges on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap too much, using two baking sheets if needed.
  • Put half the olive oil into your palms and press down onto the tortilla wedges (this makes it quick and efficient, alternatively spray or brush the oil on).
  • Sprinkle with a bit of salt and smoked paprika.
  • Bake for 8 minutes, take out of the oven, turning over every wedge and repeat the step with oil, salt and paprika, being careful not to burn yourself.
  • Bake for another 8 minutes, until tortilla chips are starting to brown at the edges and are crisp.

Serve with guacamole

GUACAMOLE
Makes 2-3 servings
Note: this makes more guacamole than what you would probably need. Or maybe it’s perfect.

3 avocados
1 small clove of garlic, minced
Juice of 1-2 limes
1 tsp cumin
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Scoop the avocado into a medium bowl and add garlic, juice of 1 lime, the cumin and mash together with a fork, making it a bit chunky.
  • Add in tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Add more lime juice if needed.

Abundance bowl with crunchy greens, smoked salmon + two dressings

As a child, my favorite thing at the dinner table was the accompanying salad bowl, which were made in abundance to make up for the fact that when everyone else was done, I still was not satisfied. So I would often end up sitting at the table stuffing my face with crunchy greens and a potent dressing, while my mother would clean out the table – life sort of had to move on – and I would try to talk with her through my teeth, secretly wondering whether I could somehow get more.

Although the salads of my childhood home consisted of 4-5 ingredients I have never lost my appetite to eat more – only now I am the one making it, and I am pairing ingredients beyond the usual suspects. I have called this dish an abundance bowl, it is, but to be blunt it is just a really packed salad, that is every bit as good as the the fancy wording.

This salad features crunchy carrots and cucumber, juicy and bitter grape, aromatic herbs, pickled ginger and spiced pumpkinseeds. As if that is not enough I made two dressings, because as you (should) know, salads are one of the best excuses to indulge in the savory liquid gold.


ABUNDANCE BOWL WITH CRUNCHY GREENS, SMOKED SALMON + TWO DRESSINGS
Makes 2 servings

Sesame-Miso Dressing:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoon umebohsi paste*
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon miso paste (any will do)
1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)
1 tablespoon water
* Omit the umeboshi paste if you have difficulties finding it, and instead add a bit more rice vinegar and perhaps a bit more miso.

Lemony tamari dressing:
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons tamari

Spiced pumpkin seeds:
1 teaspoon oil
A large handful of pumpkin seeds
Chili powder (I used a kimchi chili mix)

For the salad:
1 large head of romaine lettuce
A bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
A bunch of mint, roughly chopped
3 small carrots, cut into sticks
½ cucumber, cut into sticks
1 grape, peeled and chopped
4 ounces of smoked salmon
Pickled ginger (I used these)
Sesame-Miso dressing (see above)
Lemony tamari dressing (see above)
Sprouts
Spiced pumpkin seeds (see above)

DIRECTIONS

Start by making the lemony tamari dressing:

  • In a small saucepan heat the sesame oil over medium heat, and add in the onion and garlic at the same time. Fry for a couple of minutes until the oil sizzles and the onion/garlic mixture starts becoming translucent
  • Add in the lemon, honey and tamari, stir and turn off the heat
  • Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely while you prepare your other ingredients

Then make the sesame-miso dressing:

  • Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the sesame seeds to toast until light brown and they start to pop. You should keep an eye on this process and stir the pan every so often. About 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer the sesame seeds (and save the pan for the pumpkin seeds) to a mortar and grind them until they become a dry paste – alternatively use a small food processor.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients, adding more water to thin is necessary (I like mine to be a bit on the thin side) 

Spiced pumpkin-seeds:

  • Over medium-high heat and in the same pan you toasted the sesame seeds, add 1 teaspoon of oil and the pumpkin seeds
  • Let toast for a few minutes, until they make popping noises, then add in the chili powder, stirring and turn off the heat.

Assembling of the salad:
Divide every ingredient between two big plates

  • Tear and add the romaine lettuce as a base
  • Sprinkle with a layer of chopped herbs
  • Add  the carrots,cucumber and grape
  • Then add the salmon and top with a tablespoon of sesame-miso dressing, pickled ginger and add the sprouts on top
  • Drizzle the salad with the lemony tamari dressing and sprinkle with the spiced pumpkin seeds.