Vegan Cardamom Thyme Chocolate Puddings

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Every time I think I’ve Done Something by adding a pinch of cardamom to a recipe I hear Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly saying “florals, for spring? Groundbreaking”, but as I favour known deliciousness over needless striving for innovation (or worse: striving for virality) I can calmly tell this fictional character onto whom I’m projecting that yes, cardamom is wonderful, and here’s more of it. Obviously people have been using cardamom for centuries — it’s referred to in ancient Sanskrit texts, was beloved of Hippocrates, part of the Song Dynasty economy — and it’s pleasing to know, as I tuck into this chocolate pudding from the comfort of my bed, that I’m participating in the noble continuation of a grand culinary tradition.

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Sometimes the right answer isn’t where you’re looking for it. This recipe started off as an ice cream, and very fine it was, but the wistfully cardamom-tinted richness of the unfrozen mixture stuck with me more, so I made it again and dialled it back a few steps. Both cardamom and thyme have a kind of resiny, oily fragrance that’s wobbling just on the precipice of lemon without actually being lemony; together they lift the chocolate’s heavy curtains while still emphasising its richness, adding an air of mystery without being intrusive. Now, the first time I made this I let the coconut cream sit with its bashed cardamom pods for six hours to infuse, the second time I was in more of a hurry and it only sat for half an hour; it was still good but the cardamom didn’t make itself so known. If you end up in this same position, put ground cardamom on your shopping list and add as much as you need to the chocolate mixture till the flavour pops.

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This recipe is, I grant you, kind of annoying: first I ask for cashew butter (what are we, squillionaires) and second it requires two separate saucepans, but at least you don’t have to use a blender? And after a certain point of streamlining and cutting corners we have to accept that cooking food does involve being in your kitchen. For your efforts and sink full of dishes, however, you get a chocolate pudding of astonishing lusciousness, so dense and dark that you half expect a curious hippo’s nostrils to emerge through its surface; wildly sophisticated thanks to the individual portions and fragrant cardamom (and my fairly low bar for what constitutes sophistication), and yet inner-childishly comforting with its yielding softness and vague evocation, as you drag your spoon through the chocolate, of being given a scraped-out bowl of cake batter to lick. (Also: no tiktok video this week, my phone has suddenly decided it has all the capacity and power of a 125mb thumb drive from 2006 and as such I was up till 3am last night trying to clear storage space so I could edit one single video of chocolate melting and was thwarted at every turn. I have about 1000 fewer photos on my phone but it’s still being all “no x” whenever I try to edit that one video. Can’t wait till I try this again next time!)

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Cardamom Thyme Chocolate Puddings

Velvet-rich chocolate kissed with cardamom and fresh thyme: it’s a little messy to make and requires some advance planning, but every spoonful is a reward. And if you don’t have time to let the coconut cream infuse, add 1/2 a teaspoon ground cardamom — or more to taste — as you’re mixing it into the chocolate. Recipe by myself.

  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut cream
  • 1 cup/250ml water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 3 heaped tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Extra thyme leaves, for serving

1: Split the cardamom pods with a knife to release the black seeds within, and place the seeds and pods along with the two sprigs of thyme and the tin of coconut cream in a small saucepan and gently heat it, stirring, till the coconut cream is just too hot to touch, with a couple small bubbles escaping to the surface, but nowhere near boiling. Remove it from the heat — if you have the time, let it sit for about six hours in the fridge to soak up all the cardamom and thyme flavour, if not, just set it aside while you get on with the rest of the recipe, and add some ground cardamom to taste when you mix it into the chocolate later.

2: Roughly chop the 200g dark chocolate and set aside. In another saucepan, stir together the cup of water, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, two tablespoons golden syrup and three heaped tablespoons smooth cashew butter. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly with a whisk — it’ll look very unlikely at this stage but with a little heat (and a lot of chocolate later) it will all come together. Once it’s reached the boil, by which point it should resemble caramel sauce, let it bubble away for two minutes, stirring constantly, and then remove from the heat.

3: Let the cashew syrup sit for a minute till it stops bubbling, then tip in the chopped dark chocolate and briskly stir till the chocolate has melted. Now, take your initial pan of coconut cream, and strain it into the chocolate mixture through a sieve, so it catches the leaves and bits of cardamom. Whisk the two mixtures together, adding ground cardamom at this point if you feel like it needs a boost, and divide this mixture between your chosen serving bowls. Refrigerate the puddings for about two hours (though they can happily sit in the fridge overnight if need be) and serve scattered with extra thyme leaves.

The number of servings depends on the size of your ramekins/bowls etc, but this makes roughly 700ml of pudding mixture, and I divided it between six different receptacles, which made for a comfortable serving of pudding: enough to feel like you’ve really eaten something, but not enough that you feel like you’ve overcommitted. It would look lovely in martini or other cocktail glasses, I also liked how they looked in the base of the capacious stemless wine glasses that you can see in some of the photos here. And you could always test how it will look by filling your glasses with the same amount of water first, eg if you have seven glasses then pour in 100ml water.

Notes:

  • I haven’t tested it either way so I couldn’t say for sure but if you can’t get cashew butter, I imagine you could replace it with smooth almond butter; you could possibly leave it out altogether, bearing in mind the effect this will have on the finished texture and richness. I periodically order cashew butter from Revive, it’s the best I’ve ever tasted, it keeps for ages, and they regularly put it on special.
  • If your cashew butter is unsalted, add a pinch of salt when you’re whisking the chocolate and coconut cream together; you could also sprinkle over some sea salt flakes to serve.
  • If you’re serving this to fusspots who don’t like cardamom and thyme, subtle though they are here, leave them out and add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract when whisking everything together at the end.

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music lately:

Kid by Steve Lawrence (aka Mr Eydie Gormé) from the 1968 musical Golden Rainbow. Apropos of nothing I’ve decided to work my way through every Broadway flop mentioned in the song Monkeys and Playbills from [title of show]; Golden Rainbow is second on the list and there’s something charming about this song, about that cavernous late-60s sound, and about Lawrence’s throaty, Scott Walker-esque voice.

It’s Like That, by Run-DMC and Jason Nevins. Simply cannot overstate the effect that this music video had on me in 1997! I require an oral history of it right now!

Seagull by Ride, the sort of song that makes you feel like you could run vertically up a gust of wind onto the roof of a tall building, perhaps following it up by leaping from rooftop to rooftop as you run from one end of the city to the other without any danger of falling.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Clove-fried Onion and Marinated Mushroom Sandwich

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In this era of Covid and cancelled plans a little absence is hardly a surprise but nonetheless I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted! I have spent most of September knocked on my ear with a bad cold — not Covid, at least according to the four rat tests I did — but not at all pleasant. Aside from sneezing with metronome regularity, the most noticeable feature of this cold was that it rendered me both ravenously hungry and completely stupid. A unique and infuriating challenge: desperate for lavish meals, a backlog of writing work calling me, and barely able to concentrate on even the most lowest-common-denominator television. Somewhere around day nine, after a brief and congested visit home to see my parents (and to deplete their resources of tissue and eucalyptus oil); I made this sandwich. It pleased me greatly, I thought it was delicious, but I was still insensible with cold; fortunately for you it draws inspiration from two separate reputable sources so the odds are in your favour that it actually is quite good.

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It’s not very attractive, let’s get that out of the way first: pale bread, pale creamy onions, pale mushrooms, and of course I forgot to buy parsley for garnish, though I’m not sure just how much pale expanse it could’ve masked, all things considered. And yes, we eat with our eyes first, but we also literally eat with our mouths, so that’s the sector we should be most concerned with appeasing. I read about a sandwich filled with clove-scented fried onions in Niki Segnit’s rollickingly entertaining book The Flavour Thesaurus, and its simplicity and warmth appealed; to further bulk out the sandwich I remembered the marinated mushrooms from Nigella’s pasta recipe that I blogged about a few weeks back — yes, this is outfit repeating, but the cold really did make me dopey as hell and this was all I could think of. (To be clear, repeating recipes is obviously fantastic in real life, just not so practical in a food blogging content way.) The sensation of soft onions fresh from the pan against the cool, vinegar-tanged mushrooms is a contrast sensation that jolts you back to life in the same way that ejecting and blowing on a piece of uncooperative technology sometimes does the trick.

@hungryandfrozen

clove-fried onion and marinated mushroom sandwich, recipe on my blog at the link above 🥖 #vegan #sandwich #mushrooms #recipe #foodblogger #fyp

♬ Goodbye Horses – Q Lazzarus

The cloves offer comforting yet bracingly strident warmth and sophistication — I could only find whole cloves, which made for a more subtle flavour profile, next time I absolutely want the unequivocal hit of ground. Their presence contributed to the name of this recipe (you’re telling me a clove fried this onion? et cetera) but there’s plenty else going on: punchy, autumnal rosemary, the meekly savoury onions, the sophisticated rasp of red wine vinegar. There’s nothing stopping you adding more elements to this sandwich; fewer would be fine too — I’d happily eat a bun filled to dripping with the onions alone. And who knows, the cloves, looking like tiny rusty nails dropped into the frying pan, may have helped hasten the cold’s departure with all their purported antioxidants and other vague health-giving properties.

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Clove-fried Onion and Marinated Mushroom Sandwich

Ugly but delicious, and surprisingly luxurious for its humble ingredients. Recipe inspired by an entry in The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.

  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons extra for frying
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 whole cloves, or a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons dairy-free cream of your choice (optional)
  • 1 fresh baguette

1: First get the mushrooms soaking up their marinade. Slice the button mushrooms (not too thinly, but not too thick either) and toss in a bowl with two tablespoons of the olive oil, the tablespoon of red wine vinegar, the teaspoon of maple syrup, the leaves from the sprig of rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while you get on with the onion.

2: Finely slice the onion and gently fry in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and the cloves. If you’re using ground cloves just stir them in, and if you’ve got whole ones, squash them a bit under a wooden spoon or bash them with a heavy knife to help release more of their fragrance, and make sure to push down on them as you stir the onions. Now, it’s up to you whether you want these onions brown and crisp or soft and caramelised, the only difference is heat and time. I wanted them tender and golden, so I kept the heat low and stirred them for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once you’ve got them where you want them, stir in the cream (if using) and remove from the heat.

3: Split your baguette in half, and spread a thick layer of the creamy fried onions over one side. Top with a layer of marinated mushrooms, clamp on the other half of the baguette, and eat, messily.

Makes one substantial sandwich.

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music lately:

Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus. Toasty, hypnotic, otherworldly, makes me feel like I’m floating away but also like I’m extremely in the present moment.

This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter and Dinah Washington. These two songs are exquisite on their own, but mashed together? I honestly had a little Stendhal Syndrome moment when I first heard it as a bonus track on Richter’s gorgeous album The Blue Notebooks; it was recommended to me and now I’m recommending it to you.

The Whole World by OutKast ft Killer Mike, an unbelievably satisfying track, from Andre 3000’s Cole Porter-esque prelude to Killer Mike’s whip-snappishly dynamic verse and Big Boi’s words skittering around the beat like marbles in a Tupperware container.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time tha

tomato couscous with cinnamon, peanuts, and coriander

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Another day, another “x ingredient global shortage” or “why is x so expensive” google search, and although being unable to find bulgur wheat is hardly cause for sympathy, the increasingly combative nature of supermarkets has become, little by little, folded into my cooking process. Make a shopping list, search for missing items on the shelves, weigh up your commitment to the audaciously priced cabbage or garlic or whatever mundane ingredient you dared to hope for this week, regroup your plans, and so on and so forth. Not that I’m much of a planner, mind you, it’s more that I leap from fixation to fixation on a single recipe, in this case a bulgur wheat pilaff from Deborah Madison’s book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and I’m damned if I can find any bulgur wheat. But I also can’t shake this fixation. So I regrouped.

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Couscous lacks the granular heft of bulgur wheat but it does have the advantage of literally existing in my supermarket. As a last-minute understudy in the recipe it worked, deliciously so, although you have to bear in mind that this is a very soft, almost porridge-like rendering of couscous, each grain waterlogged with stock-infused tomato juice, but I see that softness as an asset rather than something to apologise for (at least, I don’t have any other option since that’s just how the texture is.)

@hungryandfrozen

tomato couscous • fast cheap and comforting🥲 • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com #vegan #recipes #comfortfood #foodblogger #nz

♬ Pure Shores – All Saints

Despite its humble ingredients — a can of tomatoes, a stock cube — the finished dish is somehow rich and layered in flavour, aided by a garnishy flourish of coriander and crunchy toasted peanuts. The peanut and the tomato are an underrated couple, with the former’s uncomplicated nuttiness and the latter’s acid sweetness blending beautifully. Coriander adds a lively pop of freshness, but for the inevitable haters a scattering of basil or parsley would work fine instead. This dish is soft, speedy, satisfying and — if you’ll permit me one more alliteration — a swiftly soothing balm, the kind of food that you want to eat from a knotted up position on the couch when it’s raining outside (or in your heart). But then to me, anything with cinnamon is instantly comforting.

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Tomato Couscous with Cinnamon, Peanuts, and Coriander

Fast, comforting, cheap, delicious. I adapted this from a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison.

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 mushroom stock cube, or flavour of your choice
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup/250ml water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons raw peanuts
  • small bunch coriander

1: Peel and roughly dice the red onion. Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, and saute the onions, and the crumbled stock cube, over a low heat. (The first time I made this I added the stock cube with the water, but I find it’s easier to disperse it this way.) Keep stirring until the onions have softened but not browned, which shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

2: Tip in the couscous, stirring it into the onions, then add the can of tomatoes, 250ml water, and the teaspoon of cinnamon. Give it a stir, let it come to the boil, and once it does, clamp on the lid, turn off the heat, and let it sit undisturbed for five minutes, in which time the couscous grains will absorb all the liquid.

3: Meanwhile, roughly chop the peanuts and toast them in a dry pan until they’re just golden brown and fragrant. You could also chop or tear up the coriander and have that ready for serving. Once your five minutes is up, remove the lid from the pan, carefully stir the couscous with a fork — it’ll be more soft and porridgy than light and fluffy — then divide it between two bowls, pour over more olive oil, and scatter over the peanuts and coriander.

Serves two, although I made it just for myself, and can report that it reheats well in the microwave and tastes oddly great cold from the fridge.

Notes: If you can get hold of bulgur wheat, instead of turning the heat off when the liquid comes the the boil, lower the temperature and let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes with the lid on. You can also use a regular onion instead of a red one.

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music lately:

Cowboys by Sad Lovers and Giants, love post-punk, love the way those guitars tumble and scatter at the start of the song like grains of couscous cascading into a pan of sauteed onions!

Licking Cream by Sevendust featuring Skin, extremely a time capsule but still so timelessly sublime, their voices are riveting together and apart, just the power of her verse alone makes me want to lie down with a cold compress draped over my eyes.

Could We Start Again Please, by Margaret Urlich and Tim Beveridge, from the 1994 New Zealand cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. I was heartbroken to learn of Margaret Urlich’s death last week, her voice is so beautiful — like falling pieces of silver — and I have no words to express how much her performance of Mary Magdalene meant to me, and affected me, as a kid. RIP.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

pasta with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms

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The first recipe you make from a new cookbook comes heavy with a certain ceremonial reverence; something about it suggests divining your own fortune, the shape of things to come, starting as you mean to go on, et cetera, or at least, that’s the needlessly strenuous way I approach things. This pasta with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms was the first recipe I made from Nigella Express back in January 2008 and I don’t know (or at least, can’t remember) what portent it held but I loved it then and I’ve been enthusiastic about it ever since, and what better fortune can you hope for than having a good pasta recipe in your life? Despite all this zeal I’ve never properly blogged about this pasta, outside of mentioning it briefly back in ’08, so here we finally are, slightly adapted for my current-day dairy-avoiding vibes.

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The success of this recipe hinges on how you feel about raw mushrooms (assuming that’s a stance you can immediately call to mind a lengthy opinion on) but these aren’t merely raw, in case you’re already backing away slowly. You thinly slice the mushrooms, then steep them in olive oil, lemon, garlic, thyme and plenty of salt. While the pasta cooks, the mushrooms absorb every good thing from those ingredients, their texture relaxing from squeaky to silky and ready to go — as per the ‘express’ of the cookbook title — before you can say al dente, the culinary equivalent of one of those astonishing Broadway quick-changes where a character is whisked out of one costume and into another in a matter of moments, appearing cool and unruffled to perform their next song.

@hungryandfrozen

pasta with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms from Nigella Express • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com #pasta #mushrooms #food #vegan #nigella #foodblogger

♬ Our Day Will Come – Remastered – Nancy Wilson

In fact the mushrooms taste so amazing that when I make this for myself I barely scale them down to dress 100g of pasta, and nor should you. Button mushrooms aren’t the coolest of the funghi brotherhood but this lemon-and-oil process turns them elegant, chic, something you’ll long for again and again, in fact. Just don’t forget the parsley, as I did, if you’re serving this to people — not to be overly wedded to aesthetics but when it comes down to it, wet raw button mushrooms are kind of ugly, and benefit from a distracting flounce of green. I did my best for these photos with the toasted almonds and as many thyme leaves as I could rip from each stem, but fortunately — and importantly — it’s delicious either way, and once you taste the marinated mushrooms all thoughts of how it all looks will disappear from your head.

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Pasta with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic Mushrooms

One of my favourite Nigella recipes, it’s simple and stunning and you may just want a bowl of the mushrooms on their own, they’re that good. My only change is replacing the parmesan with toasted nuts, but you do what you like. Recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella Express.

  • 250g button mushrooms (or chestnut mushrooms, if you can find them)
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, or one teaspoon table salt (plus more for the pasta water)
  • leaves from four sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 500g spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds

1: Wipe the mushrooms if they need it, thinly slice them, and place them in a bowl with the 80ml olive oil, the zest and juice of the lemon, the salt, and the thyme leaves. Crush or very finely chop the garlic clove and add it to the mushrooms.

2: Bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt abundantly, and cook the pasta in it till tender, which should take ten to twelve minutes. While the pasta is cooking, toast the almonds in a dry pan till just golden and fragrant, then set aside.

3: Drain the pasta, stir into the mushrooms (or stir the mushrooms into it, whichever is more practical) along with the parsley and almonds. If serving this in a way where visuals are a priority, save some almonds and parsley for scattering over each plate of pasta.

Serves four, though in making this for myself I only scale down the pasta, leave the marinade quantities as is, and maybe knock 100g off the mushrooms. It works. Also, I’ve included the parsley in the ingredients even though I forgot to buy it for myself.

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music lately:

Something’s Coming by Oscar Peterson, from his 1962 jazz reworking of the West Side Story score, somehow bringing languidness and fleet-footed urgency to an already urgent song. I’m also partial to Cal Tjader’s 1960 jazz stylings on West Side Story, that feline, rabble-rousing refrain in the Prologue/Jet Song lends itself wonderfully to noodly jazz interpretation.

Stairway to Paradise by Liza Minnelli. I’m not good at choosing favourites, but this is one of the Gershwin songs I love the most — it really makes you feel like you can achieve anything, or even just one thing — and Liza is on my mind (I mean, she’s a regular on my mind anyway, but) because I saw a screening of Cabaret on Friday night, speaking of favourites, and the big screen made every frame of it new and more stunning than ever.

Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. That build up to a scream at the start? Perfection. Never bettered. Never could be.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegan Biscoff Ice Cream

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Nigella Lawson spoke, in Feast, of her Wildean propensity for “reproducing artifice by natural means”. This recipe is kind of the opposite, or at least a downwards diagonal line from that concept, essentially recreating the natural (ice cream) by artificial means (three different containers of stuff mixed together.) It feels almost gallingly artless to give you a grocery list and call it a recipe, but I don’t see the point in complicating the process just to make it feel worthwhile — which really would be artifice.

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Speaking of galling, there’s no getting around how expensive Biscoff is — I’m literally pricing myself out of my own recipe here — so either wait for it to come on special, or see if you can find it at one of those shops where they sell products close to their use-by date, and, most practically of all, only make this for someone you really like.

However, I wouldn’t commit to such expense without sound reason: this ice cream tastes EXCELLENT. Hardly surprising given the ingredients, but still, reassuring (and I did have an irrational jolt of fear right before I taste-tested that it might’ve turned into a culinary disaster.) I’d never even tried Biscoff till last week; the first spoonful made me laugh hysterically, that’s how shockingly good it was. If you’re not familiar, Biscoff is a spreadable paste made of crushed biscuits, sugar, and fat, hailing from Belgium — it tastes incredibly caramelised and toasty, and not overly sweet, with that verboten stolen deliciousness of cookie dough and the rubble-y crunch of actual cookies. It’s bewilderingly, feverishly moreish, and a monument to favouring the joyful over the necessary and prudent. It’s also, somehow, vegan, and whether this was on purpose or accidental, I’m grateful to the people of Belgium for making it so.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan biscoff ice cream • no churn, three infredients, recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com #biscoff #icecream #vegan #nochurnicecream

♬ Pink Moon – Nick Drake

I’m not claiming to have come up with the idea for Biscoff-flavoured ice cream — without even looking I can tell you there’s probably hundreds of versions online already — but this is my recipe, and doesn’t sway from my favoured method of coconut cream plus condensed coconut milk. I chose a ripple effect to maximise the Biscoff-iness of it all; giving you caramel-biscuity ribbons throughout the rich ice cream, itself sand-coloured and gritty from a few spoonfuls of the Biscoff whisked through. The process is simple, involving no more than a bit of stirring, and the results are both greater than the sum of their parts and also exactly as great as the sum of their parts. Or something. And, back to my earlier point about only making this for someone you really like — if that means making it just for yourself, then you should absolutely, definitely do it. There’s no one more deserving.

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Biscoff Ice Cream

Biscoff, ice cream, it’s not rocket science, it is delicious. As always with my ice cream recipes this is no-churn and doesn’t require an ice cream maker. Recipe by myself.

  • 1 x 380g jar Lotus Biscoff crunchy spread
  • 2 x 400ml tins full fat coconut cream
  • 1 x 320g tin sweetened condensed coconut milk

1: Whisk three tablespoons of the Biscoff together with the coconut cream and condensed coconut milk in a large bowl; it will take a bit of stirring to get all three textures to meld with each other, but there’s no need to break out an electric mixer unless you really feel like it.

2: Spatula the remaining Biscoff from its jar into a smaller bowl. Slowly whisk in about a half cup of the coconut cream mixture from the larger bowl till the Biscoff is more spoonable and liquid, adding a little more if necessary. I realise it’s counter-intuitive to add it to the first mixture and then stir it back into the rest of the Biscoff, if you can work out a better way around this, be my guest!

3: Pour the coconut cream mixture into a freezer-safe container with a lid. Spoon over the Biscoff mixture from the smaller bowl, and use the handle of your spoon or some other implement to ripple the coconut cream and Biscoff together a little. Place the lid on the container and refrigerate for two hours (optional: I feel like it improves the taste and texture, but I have no science to back up this claim) then freeze for six hours or overnight. No stirring or churning required, just let it get solid.

Makes around 1.2 litres. Before serving, let the container sit for about fifteen minutes on the bench first so the ice cream can soften.

Notes:

  • I’ve only made this with the crunchy version of Biscoff. I’m sure it would be fine with the smooth version — how could it not be! — but I do think the crunchy texture adds something
  • Full-fat coconut cream is necessary to get the best results from this recipe
  • The sweetened condensed coconut milk that I use is by Nature’s Charm, I’ve found it at all chain supermarkets in NZ

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music lately:

The Great City by Nancy Wilson. Her extensive back catalogue is such a joy to work your way through (particularly for those who enjoy that wire brush drumstick type of percussion.) I’d never heard this song before but it sounds like it should be a standard, playing in the background of 90% of films set in New York City. “If you come in be sure you can get back out.”

No Peace For the Wicked by The Only Ones, it makes a fine melancholically poetic pairing with Hospital by The Modern Lovers. It takes some skill to be melancholically poetic and charming instead of annoying!

Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim. That girl in the music video who is driving her car and bobbing her head along to the beat and then she starts shaking her head really fast and looking super happy? That’s me, listening to this song. Except I can’t drive. Anyway this is song is simply one of the greatest manifestations of human ability and it deserves to be on the soundtrack of every movie ever made. Yes, including Casablanca.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Salt and Vinegar Beans

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Often my indecision isn’t based on actual lack of ability to make a decision, it’s just that I still, to ambivalently quote Bono, haven’t found what I’m looking for. I spent forty minutes today sniffing scented candles in the hopes of being able to commit to one; it didn’t take so long because I couldn’t decide, it took so long because none of them were quite explicitly pleasing enough to my nose for me to take that fragrant leap. (I eventually alit upon one with a fairly uncool name — Rendezvous — but a richly elegant bouquet of amber and orchid, and decided, decisively, that I could compromise on the name for the smell which is, after all, the point of it all.)

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This is why I keep running lists everywhere — on my notes app, on various documents strewn across my laptop’s memory, in my journal, on any piece of paper — of recipe ideas that occur to me at any given moment. The question of what to cook next is of course shaped by numerous factors, ninety percent of them financial, but just having an idea to push you in a direction does mean a good chunk of the legwork is already done. In this case, I’d written down the words “salt and vinegar beans” and put it in bold so that future-me would be unable to miss it. A half-bag of beans in the cupboard and a free day for bean-simmering appeared, and I thought I’d give it a go. A few years back I made a Salt and Vinegar Potato Gratin with happy results and so it was no great surprise that the flavour could be successfully transferred to another medium, in this case, lipstick-soft borlotti beans.

@hungryandfrozen

salt and vinegar beans hell yeah full recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com #vegan #recipe #beantok #saltandvinegar

♬ Help Me – Judy Kuhn

Even those who consider themselves truly indecisive surely have an opinion on salt and vinegar, a flavour that people seem to instantly know where they stand on. If it’s not the packet of chips you reach for first then this recipe is unlikely to convince you or change your mind, nor would I expect it to (you might, however, consider my chilli oil beans recipe instead.) For those of us who like our snacks to bite us back, this is heavenly — sure, I wasn’t surprised that it worked, but I was astonished at just how excellent it was, with the creamy and tender beans slicked in their caustic coating, the sourness somehow at odds with and yet so perfect with the beans’ texture at the same time. The flounce of rocket leaves offers pepperiness without distraction, and livens things up visually; I do think they’re necessary but if you can’t get hold of any, just use some actual pepper instead, the salt and vinegar is the real reason we’re here.

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Although I like the brisk antiseptic rasp of white vinegar I went for red wine vinegar this time, it has an easy-going elegance but still enough of a kick to send tingles up the side of your face with every mouthful. White wine vinegar would also work, balsamic would be too balsamic-y, I think, but black vinegar could just well be wonderful. Whatever you end up using, I recommend serving the beans with bottles of vinegar and olive oil and the salt within reach so that you can simply pour more of each into your bowl while you eat, as your tastebuds decree.

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Salt and Vinegar Beans

This is — unsurprisingly — one for the salt-and-vinegar-heads, and very good too, with the creamy, slow-simmered beans coated in a shimmering film of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and plenty of salt. The quantities of the aforementioned ingredients are purposefully vague, as only you can know how much you want. Oh, and you’ll need to start this a day ahead to give yourself time to soak the beans. Recipe by myself.

  • 1 cup dried borlotti beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a hearty pinch of good salt
  • a handful of rocket leaves (about a third of one of those supermarket packets, but use as much as you want)

1: Place the borlotti beans in a good-sized bowl, cover generously with water, and leave to sit for at least six hours, or better still, overnight. You may need to top up the water if they absorb it too greedily.

2: The next day, drain and rinse the beans and place them in a saucepan, again covering them generously with water. Add the bay leaf, bring the water to the boil, and then once it does, cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat right down. Let the beans simmer for about an hour, although be prepared to simmer them for twice as long, fishing one out now and then to test for doneness. Once they’re completely tender, drain the beans and discard the bay leaf.

3: Stir one to two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and a hearty pinch of salt together in a large bowl. As mentioned above, the quantities are vague because it all depends on your tastes, but if you’re unsure, start off with the smaller quantity and add more if you need it. Tip the drained beans, still warm, into the vinegar mixture, and gently stir it together. Taste to see if it wants more of anything, then stir in the rocket leaves, and serve immediately.

Serves two generously, or four as part of a meal with other bits and pieces. If you want to make this ahead of time, either add the rocket at the last minute or make your peace with wilted rocket. It tastes great either way, so no harm done. And if you are making it ahead of time and storing it in the fridge, let the beans come to room temperature before serving. I happily ate these beans just as they were, but to make it a full meal, some bread alongside wouldn’t go amiss, and maybe something vegetal but not vinegary: sliced tomatoes, roasted broccoli, et cetera.

Note:
I haven’t tried this with ready-cooked tinned beans, but can’t think of any earthly reason why it wouldn’t work. I’d use two tins of borlotti beans, drained, rinsed, and maybe warmed through in a little vegetable stock. Equally, I’m confident you could use a different dried bean to the borlotti, I’m just partial to their soft pink colour, especially against the green of the rocket.

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music lately:

I Took Your Name by R.E.M. I truly cannot overstate the power the tremolo has over me!

O-o-h Child by the Five Stairsteps. So comforting it’s almost hypnotic.

Help Me by Judy Kuhn, a cover of the Joni Mitchell song, which you probably could’ve guessed without knowing just by the questioning, peaks-and-troughs path of the vocals. There’s little I love more than a Broadway solo album — the production done on most of them could almost be a genre in itself — and Kuhn’s crystal-clear voice and level-headed vibrato is perfect for interpreting this song.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegetables à la Grecque

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I have all the time in the world for vegetables, but nothing makes my mood plummet quicker than a vegetable that has been boiled or steamed without any other mitigating spices, fats, seasonings or textural elements added to it. As a vegan — in fact, as a food writer — I should be able to face vegetables in such an untampered, intact state, and if politeness is required of a situation of course I will quietly capitulate, but internally it’ll be wall-to-wall culinary sorrow at the limpness of texture and blandness of vibe.

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Peevishly, I still crave variety, and there’s only so many times I can eat fried or roasted vegetables in quick succession. So, when I find a new-to-me method that allows me to hoon a vast quantity of vegetables in a way that’s pleasing to both my palate and boundaries, I’m obviously going to try it. It was in two separate books — Beard on Food by James Beard and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison — that I found this preparation for Vegetables à la Grecque, and while there is undeniably some boiling, it involves generous amounts of vermouth, olive oil, and spices, forming a rich yet graceful broth that you then reduce down to an intensely-flavoured liquor, before pouring it back over the vegetables, and then finally serving it chilled.

I chose fennel and green beans, and the result was so elegant: the tender, aniseed petals of fennel and the sweetness of the beans swimming in all that lush, lemony, herbal liquid, each doing their level best to infuse the other with flavour. Because this is made in advance and placidly sits in the fridge until required, it’s a useful recipe to have in your repertoire; it could stand up to a hearty stew or other slow-cooked thing as a vegetable side, but would fit happily on a table of smaller sharing plates, especially if there’s lots of bread for mopping up, and I can also see it being a friendly salad alternative in high summer when you can only face foods that have known the chill of refrigeration. I’d like to try it with cauliflower, in which case I might consider throwing in a handful of sultanas and even — should budget allow — a pinch of saffron. (Although let’s face it, with the cost of living these days the cauliflower is likely to be more expensive than the saffron.) My aversion to plain boiled vegetables may never be truly rehabilitated, but this recipe for all seasons is definite — and delicious — progress.

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Vegetables à la Grecque

A simple but elegant way to prepare vegetables, simmered and then chilled in a lush vermouth-y broth. If you need to feed more people, just add more vegetables and a bit more of everything else. Adapted from recipes by James Beard (Beard on Food) and Deborah Madison (Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone.)

  • 2-3 medium-sized fennel bulbs
  • 300g green beans
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a good pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • fresh thyme, parsley, or other herbs of your choice to serve 

1: Trim the bases from the fennel bulbs and chop each bulb into quarters or sixths, depending on how big they are. Trim the ends off the beans.

2: In a saucepan big enough to fit the vegetables in (bearing in mind they will collapse down a bit as they cook) combine the 1/3 cup vermouth, the juice of the lemon and a long strip of its peel, the three tablespoons of olive oil, the teaspoon each of fennel and coriander seeds, the bay leaf, the pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper (or, if you like, you can throw in a couple of whole peppercorns.) If you have the necessary pestle and mortar you can bash about the seeds a bit first to release their fragrance, but it’ll be absolutely fine if you don’t. Pour in the 1 and 1/2 cups of water — you may not need all of it depending on the size of your pan — and bring everything to the boil.

3: Once the broth is at the boil, lower the vegetables into the pan and turn the heat down to a simmer, partially covering the pan with a lid. Simmer for about ten minutes, or until the vegetables are tender but still with a good bite to them. Depending on your vegetables you may want to stagger the timing a little — when I make this again I’ll probably add the beans a few minutes after the fennel so they keep their colour better.

4: Once the vegetables are tender but bite-y, remove them to a serving dish using tongs or some other similarly useful implement, then turn up the heat on the saucepan and let the broth cook away until it has reduced down by about half. Don’t get too hung up on the precision of this, but I find sticking the end of a wooden spoon into the pan at various intervals to see what the tide is like helps to keep track of the reduction. Once it’s reduced down sufficiently, pour the entire contents of the pan over the waiting vegetables in their serving dish, cover, and refrigerate until cooled. Chop up some fresh herbs — thyme, parsley, basil would be perfect — and scatter over before serving.

Serves 2 as a side, although I happily ate all of this by myself with some bread to dip into the liquor, and it could stretch to another person, maybe even two more, if you had plenty of other food on the table.

Note:

  • If you don’t like fennel, or beans, or can’t get hold of them, you could try using any other firm vegetable: James Beard recommends eggplant and artichoke, and Deborah Madison suggests cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms and turnips. While I haven’t made it with these myself, I am confident they would all be delicious.
  • If you have a few cloves of garlic on hand and like to eat it then definitely add them, finely sliced, to the simmering broth — the only reason I left it out was because I forgot it, but it’s good to know it tastes great without should I find myself in this situation again.

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music lately:

Sparks by Faith and the Muse. Weighs a ton and yet floats right through you.

No, No, No by Dawn Penn. A classic. A classic!

Roly Poly by Doris Day and Perry Blackwell from the film Pillow Talk. I wish there were more recordings of Blackwell available, her presence and voice are great, but at least we get this very fun moment in this very fun film.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Lemon Rosemary Fettuccine [vegan]

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It has been, as the band Staind once said, a while. I’d like to offer up the fact that I moved house yesterday as a defence, but as for the weeks prior to that all I can say is that sometimes not doing stuff begets not doing stuff and that’s about all there is to it. But I’m back, I’m here, and importantly, I’ve got pasta for you.

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Something about a new beginning always puts me in mind of old beginnings: Lemon Linguine was the first recipe I ever made from Nigella Lawson’s seminal text How To Eat, and it then became the first recipe I blogged about on here back in 2007. Mum sent me off to my new digs yesterday with a bag of lemons and herbs from the garden as a kind of offering, and immediately I pictured this Lemon Rosemary Fettuccine, the first recipe to sanctify the new space with — not the same method as Nigella’s linguine but an echo of that memory for sure. Better yet, I made it, better still, it tasted excellent.

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Fettuccine is very comforting to me, probably because it was one of about four pasta shapes you could buy when I was a kid and it seemed to be by far the fanciest, and therefore fancified whatever it was served with. Now its fanciness is kind of outdated, but that makes it even more comforting, a taste of the world idealised rather than how it is. On a less fanciful note, its generous width suits the delicate sauce, but if you’ve only got spaghetti this will still taste good.

There’s hardly anything to this, and once you’ve stirred the near-instant sauce into the pasta it may look like nothing’s happening at all, but the flavours slide briskly down each broad strand of pasta like a kid at a waterpark: the optimistic freshness of the lemons, the creamy tang of the yoghurt, the rich pepperiness of the olive oil, and the herbs, which even in their small quantities make themselves known. Especially the strident rosemary, hence her place in the recipe title. I know in my heart of hearts that this would be perfect with a scattering of chilli flakes — Aleppo pepper, gochugaru, whatever — and I almost added them, but in the end I wanted a more subtle, diaphanous effect. It was delicious without them, but keep in mind that it would be delicious with them, and add or subtract them according to however you feel in the moment.

And if you’re really in the mood for pasta, you could consider my recipes for Bucatini with Chilli Oil Pumpkin Seeds; Thai Yellow Curry Mac’n’Cheese; or Spaghetti with Horseradish Butter.

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Lemon Rosemary Fettuccine

Simple, fresh, absolutely pinging with lemon. Ever since finding an affordable yoghurty yoghurt I’ve been using it in everything, and this is my latest effort: it forms the base of a sauce that’s so fast you barely need to start making it till the pasta is al dente. Recipe by myself.

  • 100g fettuccine
  • salt for the pasta water, and to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 3 heaped tablespoons dairy-free yoghurt of your choice, ideally an oat/rice blend

1: Bring a good-sized pan of water to the boil on the stove (sometimes I’ll boil the kettle first and pour that into the pan if I’m impatient) and then add several pinches of salt and the fettuccine. Let it return to the boil and cook until the pasta is tender, which should take about ten minutes.

2: While the pasta is cooking, roughly chop the tablespoon of rosemary leaves and stir them together with the tablespoon of thyme leaves, the zest and juice of the lemon, the tablespoon of olive oil, the three heaped tablespoons of yoghurt, and salt to taste.

3: Drain the pasta, transfer it into a serving bowl, and stir in the lemon-yoghurt sauce. That’s it, you’re done. Pour over more olive oil if you like (and I did.)

Serves 1.

Note:
The Collective vegan oat/rice/coconut yoghurt is the one for me, it’s cheaper than any other brand on the shelf and it really tastes like yoghurt. I love regular coconut yoghurt but I can never afford it and it does mean whatever you cook will taste like coconut. This is never a bad thing but sometimes you want other options!

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music lately:

Oceanic Beloved by Alice Coltrane. Those harps! Like the aural equivalent of someone running their fingers through your hair. This entire album (A Monastic Trio) is a masterpiece.

Voices Carry by ‘Til Tuesday. When new wave is good it’s SO good, engulfs your sinuses and makes you question if there’s any other music you could possibly listen to. This is one of those songs, feather-light and airy and yet crushes your heart like 5000 tons of atmospheric pressure is bearing down upon you.

Polish by Fugazi. “We’ll take the package/let the contents remain.” So energetic yet so weary, I love it.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegan Kiwifruit Ripple Ice Cream

I’m a simple woman: all I need for my personal Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to be amply and abundantly fulfilled is to come up with a new ice cream recipe once a month. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say, exasperatedly and broadly, removing my spectacles and pinching the bridge of my nose in great weariness, that this year really has just been one thing after another. But realising that we’re six months in to 2022 and I still haven’t invented an ice cream recipe? Well, that did shed some light on this on-the-back-foot feeling; sure, ice cream wouldn’t have changed any of the events that were completely out of my hands, but I would’ve had ice cream! In my hands!

We’re not entirely out of the woods here; this isn’t a brand-new recipe but a vegan reworking of an old recipe from my 2013 cult hit cookbook, but it’s new-ish, and it is, undeniably, ice cream, and that’s enough for now. Not to undermine my capacity for invention, but to me kiwifruit aren’t theeeee most versatile recipe, and the recipes that I do see using them have a kind of strained, strenuous quality (steak with kiwifruit, et cetera). Fortunately, their mouth-shrinking sour-sweetness is made to be paired with creamy, mellow vanilla ice cream, especially in this format, with the contrast between the ice cream and the ribbons of green snaked throughout.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan kiwi fruit ripple ice cream 🥝➿🍦no churn, no ice cream maker, totally delicious. Full recipe on my blog hungryandfrozen dot com #icecream #kiwi #vegan #nochurn #cooking

♬ Powerman – The Kinks

I’ve pretty well settled into my condensed milk/coconut cream base recipe for ice cream so there won’t be any surprises there for longtime readers; and as always, I am rallying against Big Ice Cream Maker by keeping this no churn (in fact, the less you touch it the better, to preserve those precious delineated ripples.) There is a bit more dishwashing than usual involved because you have to puree then heat the kiwifruit, but it’s still the work of minutes. The other thing I should warn you about — although you can probably see from the photos — is that the kiwifruit puree won’t be as vividly green as the cut fruit themselves promise, it will still look pretty, but not quite as cartoonishly green as you’d initially expect.

And the result, easily won, is glorious: a parenthesis of velvety ice cream around bursts of fizzingly brassy and sour kiwifruit, two opposites in each spoonful, like listening to an EDM remix of a piece of classical music (though I’m not sure if that description is actually selling it or not.) This might be my first new (ish) ice cream for 2022, but it will not be the last. Also, if this has piqued your interest for ice cream of the ripple genre, see also my recipes for  Vegan Jelly Tip Ice Cream, Vegan Salted Caramel Ice Cream, and Vegan Treacle Black Pepper Ripple Ice Cream (in all cases I’d use the same base that I’ve used here, some of these were made before the advent of condensed coconut milk.)

Vegan Kiwifruit Ripple Ice Cream

Lush vanilla ice cream rippled with swirls of pureed kiwifruit, sweet and sour and delicious all at once. And, of course, like all my ice cream recipes it’s no-churn with no ice cream machine required! Recipe by myself.

  • 8 kiwifruit
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar powder (optional)
  • 1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut cream
  • 1 x 310g tin sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1: Scoop the green flesh from your kiwifruit and puree it — either using a blender, or you can put them directly into the saucepan required for the next step and blitz them with a stick blender. Either way, it’s fine to have a few bits and pieces of fruit still in the blended mixture.

2: Gently heat the pureed kiwifruit and the tablespoon of sugar until the sugar has dissolved and then, (optionally) mix the teaspoon of agar agar powder with 1/4 cup water and stir it into the kiwifruit mixture, then continue stirring over the lowest possible heat for another two minutes. If it starts to bubble, remove it from the heat — you’re just warming it through. Set it aside to cool a little. (If you don’t have agar agar just skip this step and simply stir the tablespoon of sugar into the uncooked, pureed kiwifruit, but the agar agar does help with the texture of the eventual kiwifruit ripple.)

3: Now that the hard part is over, just whisk together the tins of coconut cream and sweetened condensed coconut milk with the tablespoon of vanilla; then tip 3/4 of this into a 2 litre freezer-proof container. Spoon over the kiwifruit mixture in dribs and drabs, followed by the rest of the coconut cream mixture, and use the tip of a knife or something similar to gently ripple the two mixtures together. Go easy: too much agitation and it’ll all become one uniform mass, which will still be delicious, but the less you touch it the more ripple-y it will eventually be.

4: Clip the lid onto the container and refrigerate it for two hours, then freeze for six hours or overnight. This needs to sit on the bench for twenty minutes before you try to bust into it.

Makes around 1.25 litres.

Notes:

  • I used Nature’s Charm vegan condensed milk since…they seem to be the only brand that makes it. I’m glad they do, it’s rather revolutionised the way I make ice cream.
  • Agar Agar is usually easily found at asian supermarkets and health food shops, but you might be able to find it at a chain supermarket, either in the baking aisle or the dark corner where they shunt all the vegan and organic food.
  • I haven’t tested this recipe without the agar agar, but the original recipe in my cookbook just used pureed kiwifruit and sugar, nothing else, and that turned out fine.
    You probably don’t need to refrigerate the ice cream before freezing it, I’ve decided that it improves the flavour and texture but I’m not sure I could defend that claim in a court of law.

music lately:

My Good Fortune by PJ Harvey, ugh this song is so cool and we all will be too if we listen to it. That zig-zagging guitar lick! The drawn-out word endings! The big apple, baby!

We Care A Lot by Faith No More (specifically the Chuck Mosley — RIP — version from Introduce Yourself.) Look at the nearest clock. What time is it? Time to listen to this song. Speaking of time, I love — aside from everything else I love about this song — how the drums somehow feel half a beat too fast and yet half a beat too slow. Like, same.

Bless The Lord from the film version of Godspell, by Lynne Thigpen. Despite having seen this movie a million times and owning about seven different versions of the cast recording on vinyl I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what’s happening here — there’s something about putting Jesus in a musical that begets the most unintelligible vibes, but also the most incredible music. Listen to that “oh yeah” breakdown at about 1 minute in and tell me you don’t get chills! The filmed versions of stage musicals don’t always get it right, but Thigpen’s rendition of this is the best I’ve ever heard, and I’m not sure there’ll ever be a better one.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Vegan Pecan Sandies

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I’ll speak freely with you: these cookies did not blow my hair back, and they are not the stuff of hyperbole (even though I like to maintain that I never actually use hyperbole, and only ever describe thing accurately.) But sometimes you just need a nice, calm biscuit. There is a place for them! We can’t all be pupil-dilatingly exciting like these Chocolate Rosemary Cookies (incidentally, adapted from the same author) or my Vegan Hundreds and Thousands Cookies. So no, these are neither hellzapoppin’ nor knee-tremblingly intoxicating but they do taste very good, and were born to sit robustly alongside a cup of tea at 10.30am or 9.30pm.

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Besides which I haven’t blogged in an age (no dramatic reason, I just haven’t cooked a whole lot this month) and I had to write about something and here these Pecan Sandies were, sturdy and stalwart and reliable and ready to step up to the figurative and literal plate.

@hungryandfrozen

vegan pecan sandies • easy and delicious cookies from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s I Can Cook Vegan • recipe at hungryandfrozen dot com 🍪 #vegan #baking #cookies #pecansandie #foodblogger

♬ Adagio / Spartacus – Josu Gallastegui

I’d never heard of these cookies before — although I understand they’re quite normal in America — and I admit the name put me off slightly (reading it made me feel like I’d suddenly got sand caught in my sleeves somewhere about the elbow, this is absolutely likely a me-problem and not the recipe’s fault) but they’re very easy to make, with a supple dough that comes together in minutes and a low oven temperature meaning you’re unlikely to overcook or burn them. The pecans, crucially, give it a little razzle dazzle with their rich smokiness and soft crunch, but if you are for some reason hankering after a very plain biscuit you could leave them out and increase the spices — maybe adding in some cinnamon while you’re at it — at which point you might consider half-dipping them in dark chocolate — but then we’re veering around to blow-your-hair-back territory again. In lieu of pecans, walnuts would be the most sensible replacement, with their similar almost-bitter softness. Whatever you leave out or add in, the biscuits themselves have a melting texture, a hearty flutter of vanilla, and despite my usual heavy hand in this regard, the modest amount of sugar gives just the right level of sweetness. Simple? Yes. Fantastic? Also yes!

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Vegan Pecan Sandies

A simple, not-too-sweet cookie studded with pecans, very easy to make and unsurprisingly, very easy to eat. Recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s excellent book I Can Cook Vegan, I’ve bumped up the allspice but that’s the only change I made. If you want to make these cheaper, you could use one of those little 70g packets of pecans from the baking aisle instead of a whole cup’s worth, just make sure they’re broken up well so you get plenty of pecan dispersed through each cookie.

  • 2/3 cup refined coconut oil, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oat milk, or similar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup pecans

1: Beat the 2/3 cup refined coconut oil and 1/2 cup sugar together in a mixing bowl. Coconut oil is usually soft enough at room temperature, but if it’s a really cold day, giving it about ten seconds in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl) is enough to make it pliant.

2: Beat in the 1/4 cup milk, followed by the two teaspoons of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the flour to form a thick, pale dough.

3: Break up the pecans into small pieces using your hands, and stir them through the dough. Place the mixing bowl in the fridge for twenty minutes, and while this is happening, preheat your oven to 165C/325F and get out a cookie tray/sheet and a large piece of baking paper to lie on it.

4: Once the 20 minutes are up, roll the dough into balls (using a tablespoon to scoop out the dough) and place them about 2.5cm apart on the baking paper-lined tray. Flatten them a little, gently, with your fingertips, and bake for about 18 minutes, or until just lightly golden around the bottom edges. Transfer the hot cookies to a cooling rack and continue rolling and baking the rest of the dough.

Makes 18 – 20 cookies (that is, the original recipe yields 18, but I got 19 out of this and I ate enough dough that I probably could’ve got about 21 cookies had I a little more discipline.)

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music lately:

Kool Thing by Sonic Youth, there is something comforting about listening to a song that is cooler than you or anyone you know will ever be, it’s like ok, thanks for shouldering that responsibility, guys.

There’s Always A Woman from Sondheim’s musical Anyone Can Whistle as performed — thrillingly! — by Bernadette Peters and Madeline Kahn at a concert in 1995, whoever thought to put them and their energies together on stage is a genius and I’m forever grateful. This footage isn’t very good quality but the sound is fine, and their tremulous voices by turns querulous and harmonising is something I wish we’d got more of before Kahn sadly passed a few years later.

About once every six months I medically have to listen to this — bear with me — isolated and looped sample of doo-wop group The Marcels’ song Heartaches as used in the song I’m So Humble by Andy Samberg’s character in the mockumentary film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. It’s unbelievably obnoxious and yet I will sit there listening to it for a good six, eight, nine minutes flat. I can hear what you’re saying already, “If I had a nickel for every time I did that,” etc etc.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours on a monthly basis. There’s no better time than right now – your support helps me to make all these blog posts!