More frozen goodness

After reading that potassium and calcium are a good way of preventing leg cramps, I decided the best way of getting enough of both in my diet had to be banana ice cream.  It's turned out brilliantly, and fingers crossed, will stop intense leg pain waking me in the night.

As usual, this starts with a custard base. Incidentally, after a bit of googling, I found out that I haven't been making ice cream at all. I've been making frozen custard. In my opinion, if it tastes like ice cream and looks like ice cream, I'm more than happy to call it ice cream. 

Banana and Coconut Ice Cream
600 ml cream
500 ml milk
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbspn coconut essence
3 ripe bananas

Combine the cream, milk and coconut essence and cook on low heat until almost boiling. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Remove milk from heat, and combine around 1 cup with egg mix. Beat well to avoid egg cooking and forming lumps. Return egg mix to the milk pan and return to heat. Cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon - around 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before placing in the fridge to chill overnight. When chilled, whip until the mix is light and volume has increased slightly. Mash bananas, and add to custard mix. Continue whipping to combine. Place in a chilled container and freeze for around 90 minutes. The centre should be soft, with the edges frozen. Whip again, to gain additional volume. Return to freezer for an additional 90 minutes. Impatient people could eat the ice cream at this point, but additional cycles of whipping and freezing certainly won't do the mix any harm.

For a more grown up version that won't freeze hard, use Malibu in place of the coconut essence. You'll need to experiment with quantities, as too much will stop the ice cream freezing. For another variation, stir around a cup of shredded coconut through the mix at the same time as the banana. Given that my recipe is purely medicinal, I've chosen to go without.

Seriously fluffy pancakes

With all of the ice cream making that's been going on lately, I've been looking for recipes that use up egg whites and don't involve meringue. This is what I came up with this morning.

2 cups plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
4 egg whites
1 cup milk
1 cup yoghurt
50g unsalted butter, melted

Sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside. Combine the milk yoghurt and butter, add to flour and mix thoroughly. Beat the egg whites until fluffy but not stiff. They should be about double to triple in volume, but not leave peaks. Fold into the pancake batter. Heat a frying pan and add a little butter or non-stick spray. Add a bit of batter, and cook until bubbles form. Flip, and cook until golden brown. Add your topping of choice and watch them disappear.

I think you could probably leave the butter out without too many adverse effects. The finished pancakes would be a little drier, but if you like to add lots of topping, then swings and roundabouts.  Two cups of buttermilk could definitely be used in place of the milk and yoghurt too.

Next time I'll be trying a more grown up version, and add some cinnamon and ginger to the flour. 

Jam Season

There's no doubt summer is my favourite time of year. I love the hot weather, the beach, tennis and cricket. And summer fruit is by far the most delicious, and in my opinion, the least boring. The only problem with summer fruit is that it's also the stuff that makes the best jam. And the worst part about summer is spending a hot day or night stirring boiling fruit and testing for setting point. Still, home made jam is definitely worth the effort, both in terms of flavour and cost effectiveness. Best of all, you know exactly what's in it. 

My favourite jam is made from fruit straight from the farm, preferably after I've spent a morning picking - well, eating two, then putting one in the bucket. But lack of time and energy this year has meant a trip out to the farms hasn't been possible. Failing that, I've only made two flavours this year, both of them a little bit experimental and very delicious. Neither of them is safe for anyone trying to lose weight. Thanks to Darren and Caits for picking/buying good fruit.

I'm not an expert in the science behind jam making, but know that whether or not it sets properly depends on the amount of pectin and acid contained in the fruit. Neither of these recipes requires additional pectin, but if you can't get the mix to reach setting point, adding a packet of Jamsetta will rescue it without compromising flavour. To test if the jam has reached setting point, place a saucer in the freezer and allow to chill. Place a teaspoon of jam on the saucer, and return it to the freezer for 30 seconds. If the jam is ready to bottle, it will wrinkle when you push it with your finger.

Apricot and lime jam
The lime juice in this recipe keeps the apricots tasting like fresh fruit, instead of overly sweet. 

1 kg apricots
1 kg sugar
1 cup water
2 tbspn lime juice

Quarter the apricots and remove the stones. Reserve around ten stones.  Place the water, apricots, reserved stones and lime juice in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until the fruit softens. Add the sugar, and stir well until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly around 15 minutes. Remove any scum that forms on top. Begin testing for setting point. If the jam is ready, remove it from the heat and bottle immediately. Otherwise continue cooking, testing at five minute intervals. After bottling, turn jars upside down for ten minutes to distribute the fruit evenly.

Makes 1.2 litres.

Strawberry and citrus jam
1 kg strawberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1 lime, juiced
900 g sugar

Wash and hull the berries. Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, and allow to cook for around 15 minutes. Remove any pale scum from the top - brightly coloured berry juice foam is ok to stay. Begin testing for setting point. If the jam is ready, bottle it immediately. Otherwise, continue cooking, testing for setting point every five minutes. After bottling, turn upside down for ten minutes to distribute the fruit evenly.

Makes around 1 litre.

Now fingers crossed limes stay on special so I can make some marmalade.
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