Vanilla Pannacotta & Summer Berry Compote

Food, Recipes

Hello Readers,

So I’ve had a pretty tough week, and am generally quite scared to be telling the world this, as I tend to just keep everything bottled up and it well and truly popped its cork the other day. So please be kind, as I’m not sure about this.

I’m finding this whole graduate life pretty tough. We all get spat out the education system, without actually having much knowledge about the real world in my opinion, I got a 1st but don’t feel I actually know a lot haha! I’m not getting anywhere with job applications which is truly depressing, and I’m getting tired of having no routine. I’d like to think I’m good with change, but this whole transition period is not cool!

Moaning aside, (apologies for being so negative) I know something will come along which is meant to be for me. I decided I needed a bit of time away to clear my head, so booked some train tickets to Nottingham to see my partner in crime Daisy, who I will totally design a Nutella based recipe for soon. Watch this space Daisy. This girl is the one person that can relate to me and I’m sure she is pretty bored of my moaning, so I’m sorry for that haha but you’ll just have to put up with me. We are filling the weekend with what we do best, eating. Pancakes & bacon will be in order, along with a green smoothie, and then the hard choice of where to go for dinner, topped of with some cocktails. Sunday we are going to a food festival at Wollaton, seeing people like John Waite, Lisa Faulkner & Sat Baines, I’m excited about this and will keep you all posted about my adventure! Hopefully this will be a well needed trip away to smile again! Sadly, I didn’t get the job at Sipsmith, but I know I’m not the right person for the job, and they enjoyed my application so onto the next one, its all about learning and interview experience (right?!). I’m trying to stay positive, which is quite ironic as its currently pouring with rain, haha!

Enough of that, here is my recipe for vanilla and mascarpone pannacotta with a summer berry compote. Is it obvious that I love mascarpone yet? I could literally eat the stuff out the tub with a spoon. The smooth creamy mix complements the sharp/sweet berries so well and the deep purple colour contrasts with the pillowy white pannacotta. I used a mix of blackcurrants, raspberries, red currants and gooseberries, but it was a punnet of mixed berries which came in our Abel & Cole box, so frozen summer fruits would work well! Simply use whatever you have – be it strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, just experiment! I designed another recipe card, not as pleased with this one but I will keep working on them, I am really trying to push and challenge myself with this blog, and am loving it so far.

Pannacotta Recipe

A lovely rich, smooth and creamy dessert, perfect to enjoy with friends at the  weekend, or enjoy indulgently on your own, remember that there are no calories at the weekend (tiny fib)! Next week a slightly healthier recipe, a broccoli, lemon and chilli pasta recipe designed with my lovely friend Sarah in mind, This ones for you.

I’ll speak to you next week, hopefully with a smile on my face,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Berry, Custard & Mascarpone Tart

Baking, Food, Recipes

Hello readers,

I am starting to get a handle on my job lists, after having parties and a trip to the Isle of Wight. I see a lot of you liked my Amaretto Gelato post last week, and next week I’ll have another alcoholic ice for you adults to enjoy (sorry kids!) but here’s a recipe you can all enjoy… a beautiful berry tart, perfect for using our beautiful British berries, that you may have picked yourself, with children or bought from the market or supermarket.

This weekend just gone, after getting back from a completely over indulgent trip to the Isle of Wight (what Grandma’s do best) I threw a small Barbecue to celebrate my sisters results from University. She got a 2.1 and I am so so proud of her, as along with studying, she worked full time, kept up a flat, found time for the gym and socialising with friends. There was about 10 of us, and we had a BBQ with the usual stuff, and then this tart, the biggest trifle you’ve probably ever seen and a surprise peanut butter and chocolate cake, which would have remained secret had my sister not gone in the garage! I had an amazing time with friends, food and drinks and we were also spoilt rotten. We each received a beautiful bunch of flowers, a Links of London Graduation charm, a Spa Weekend and £100. Thanks Mum & Dad! I may post up the recipe for the cake soon!

Berry, Custard & Mascarpone Tart

Ingredients

Pastry

225g/8oz Plain Flour

113g/4oz Lard

113g/4oz Butter

50ml (aprox.) Water

Custard (I only used half of this mixture, but why not use the rest in homemade ice-cream, or with sponge pudding. You can use all of it for a more custardy taste, or fill the extra tartlets with this mix and top with fruit)

300 ml Milk

2 Eggs + 1 Yolk

1 Vanilla Pod (or 1 tsp paste/extract)

90g Sugar

50g Cornflour

75g Butter, diced

1 Tub of Mascarpone

Assortment of Berries I used a 400g tub of Strawberries, and a mixed berry pack from Sainsbury’s (raspberries, strawberries and blueberries)

Method

1. Start by making the pastry. In a food processor (or by hand)blitz/rub together the flour and fats until breadcrumb consistency, then add the water until a dough forms, you may not need all the water, likewise you may need a little more, I’ll leave this up to you! Once combined, tip on to a surface, form a ball, flatten and wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest and chill.

2. Once chilled, roll out the pastry. Lightly flour the rolling pin and surface and roll out the pastry to a few mm thick. You want it as thin as you can make it, for a nice crisp result. I used an oblong tin, but a round one is fine. Roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and place carefully in your flan tin. Press the pastry into the edges using a wooden spoon handle, or your fingers being careful not to rip your base. Don’t worry if you do, just patch it up with some spare pastry. With any left over trimmings, you can make some mini jam tarts, or tartlet shells to fill with left over custard. Place the flan tin back in the fridge to relax, while you make the custard and remember not to trim the pastry right to the edge as otherwise it will shrink back.

3. To make the custard, place the milk, and split vanilla pod (scraping out all the lovely seeds) in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornflour until smooth and creamy. Once the milk has come to the boil, leave to infuse for ten minutes.

4. Brink the milk back up to the boil, then whisk into the egg mixture. Return back to the saucepan and whisk continually until boiling, and really thick. Then add the diced butter and whisk in until melted and smooth. Place in a bowl, and top the surface with clingfilm (ensuring its in contact) to stop a film forming. Leave to cool then refrigerate.

5. While the custard is chilling, preheat the oven to 180c fan/200c, fill the pastry case with parchment, and baking beans/rice/pulses and blind bake for 10-15 minutes. After this time remove the paper & beans and trim down your pastry if you so wish. Return to the oven and bake for another ten or so minutes until the pastry is nice and golden. Leave to cool.

6. When ready to assemble, mix half the custard with the mascarpone, you may want to use an electric whisk to get a really smooth consistency or just use some muscle and burn the extra calories. Spoon in the tart and smooth evenly over the pastry – don’t worry about this looking neat as you are going to pile it with berries.

7. Add your berries, I chopped the strawberries in halves and quarters for the bottom and added the raspberries and blueberries! This creative bit is up to you! Which is why I love to cook. Make it your own!

Keep your eyes peeled for next weeks post, a refreshing G&T sorbet! Time for me to go back to the job hunt! Wish me luck!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Rhubarb & Custard Ice Cream

Baking, Food, Recipes

My mum receives an organic fruit and veggie box every week packed full of seasonal goodies from the wonderful people at Abel & Cole, who like me are lovers of collaboration. We received some organic rhubarb and some strawberries in our box and I thought to my self that summer is finally upon us, despite the weather taking a bit of a turn at the start of June. What better way to kick off the season than with some homemade ice cream, indulgent and luxurious. This flavour is a classic combination that some may remember from childhood boiled sweets.

How about serving it with some mini meringue kisses, (a great way of using up the egg whites) and some strawberries marinated in Amaretto liquor, a twist on the classic Eton mess or why not add some jelly, to make an adult version of a child’s favourite – knicker bocker glory.

There are a few different stages to this recipe, and a fair few ingredients, but please don’t be put off as the stages can be made in advance and refrigerated, ready for assembly the next day.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Ice Cream Base

300ml Milk

100g Granulated Sugar

3 Egg Yolks

1tsp Vanilla Bean Paste/Extract or 1 Vanilla Pod

500g tub Mascarpone Cheese

140ml Double Cream

Rhubarb Compote – Adapted from a Waitrose Recipe

Aprox. 400g Rhubarb (about 1 pack/bunch)

1 Vanilla pod, split / Vanilla Bean Paste/Extract

2tbsp Maple Syrup

60g Light Brown Sugar

2 Clementines, or a Splash of Orange Juice

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon, or 1 Cinnamon Stick

Meringues – Meringue Girls Recipe

Marinated Strawberries

400g Punnet of British Strawberries

1tbsp Maple Syrup or Caster Sugar

1tbsp Amaretto Liquor

Method

Start by making the Rhubarb Compote

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c and chop the rhubarb into sticks roughly 6-7cm long.

2. Place the rhubarb, vanilla, spices, sugar and clementines (peeled and sliced/or the juice) in an oven proof dish.

3. Cover with foil and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and baste with the maple syrup and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the rhubarb in tender.

4. Leave to cool, then remove the vanilla pod and cinnamon stick before blending to a smooth puree. Set aside in the fridge.

Next, prepare the Ice Cream Base

1. Combine the milk, vanilla and half the sugar in a saucepan and bring to just below boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat, and set aside for about 15 minutes to infuse the vanilla into the milk.

2. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar and beat until thick and pale. It’s best to use an electric whisk for this, but if you don’t have one just use a little elbow grease – think of all the calories you’ll save, ha!

3. Bring the milk back to the boil, then slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture, ensuring to whisk steadily as the milk is added – we don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs.

4. This bowl can either be placed over a bowl of simmering water, or you can return the custard to the saucepan. If you are going to use the second option, ensure the pan is on a heat diffuser and use a thermometer to ensure you do not overheat the custard. Use a wooden spoon, or spatula to continually stir the custard untill it reaches 85 degrees c, or is thicker in consistency. It should coat the back of the spoon, and hold its shape when you run your finger through it.

5. Pour into a bowl and cover directly with cling film to stop a film forming, and then once cool refrigerate.

6. Once cool, beat the mascarpone, to loosen it and then beat in the custard mixture, along with the double cream. The mascarpone gives the ice cream a luxuriously thick and creamy texture, but you can substitute this for a 300ml carton of double cream instead if you want to (instead of the mascarpone and additional double cream).

7. This is ready to be poured into an ice cream maker, until it is thick and luxurious. If you do not have an ice cream maker you could try pouring it into a tub, freezing and churn it by hand every half hour/to an hour to break up the ice crystals. However, for best results use an ice cream maker, as the hand method will result in a less smooth result.

8. Once the ice cream is set, marble through 3/4 of the rhubarb puree. We will use the other 1/4 to drizzle over the ice cream later. Pour in a tub, and leave to firm up in the freezer.

Marinated Strawberries

1. Hull and quarter the strawberries, and add to a bowl.

2. Spoon over the maple syrup or sugar and add the liquor, mix together and set aside in the fridge, until ready to serve. If you are making this for children, you can leave the liquor out.

Assemble 2-3 scoops of ice cream, a spoonful of strawberries, a few meringues and jelly if you so wish and top with a little of the left over compote, and enjoy.

Rhubarb &Custard

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x