Wednesday 27 May 2015

Salted caramel ice-cream

Sometime last last year, just in time for summer, I inherited my friends' ice-cream maker. They were moving, their new kitchen didn't have as much storage space as the old one so they were shedding appliances and I was the lucky beneficiary. All through December, January, February, March and April, that ice-cream maker sat on my shelf gathering dust. How to explain this? Maybe that I recognised having ice-cream on tap all the time might not be such a good thing. Maybe it was that I needed to freeze the inner drum of the machine thoroughly first and my freezer was always jam-packed. Maybe it was because the box was out of my line of sight and I forgot about it. I'm not sure. All I know is that finally, last weekend, as the first day of winter approached, I made ice-cream while wearing a jumper with the heater on. I won't be waiting that long again.

Salted caramel is having a moment to be sure. With good reason. It's sweet, it's salty, it's sublime. This recipe, from master ice-cream maker David Leibowitz (author of The Perfect Scoop), was inspired by the caramel ice-cream of famed Parisan parlour Berthillion. The secret is in the making of the caramel - you push it to the edge of burnt, which, in combination with the salt, saves it from being too sweet, producing instead a perfectly balanced, utterly decadent yet simple dessert. All you need is a spoon.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Cardamom cake

For me, the perfect cake to have with coffee is a simple one and this might just be the best. Cardamom's flavour suggests a market in south Asia but the origins of this recipe are further north in Scandinavia, where the ritual of coffee and cake has a name (fika) and a place in the culture. This butter cake is simple and sweet, lightly tangy with lemon and fragrant with cardamom. Though you can absolutely use the spice ready ground (if you do, maybe use half the amount) the seeds, crushed lightly in a mortar and pestle, look beautiful flecked through the crumb of the cake. Its burnished gold exterior and brown sugar warmth make it extra lovely at this time of year, eaten in the (almost) winter sun.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Parsi tomato chutney

Here are two undisputed facts about my mother:

1. She makes amazing chutney.

2. She is utterly unsentimental. 

Whenever I go home to visit she is always offering to teach me how to make her signature chutneys (green papaya, mango) as "one day she will die and there won't be any more". Unlike my mother, I am sentimental and in deep and comfortable denial about anything ever happening to her, so I refuse to learn. Instead, I've taught myself to make my own. It's different enough to mum's to perpetuate the myth that she will always be around to make the others for me, and so good it passes muster with the great chutney-maker herself. So this year, I made her some. For Mother's Day. Even though she doesn't believe in it.

My friend Elizabeth put me on to this recipe, originally from Niloufer Ichaporia King's book My Bombay Kitchen.  As the name suggests, it's made primarily with tomatoes (easy to chop in large quantities), has a relatively short list of other supermarket-available ingredients, and really requires nothing more than throwing everything into one pot and letting it bubble away for a couple of hours. It's brilliant on a sandwich or served alongside a curry, particularly a hot one as the sweetness of the tomatoes balances it beautifully. It's so good slathered on cornbread, delicious dolloped on a cracker with cheese, and jarred up, makes a lovely present... for mothers who are mortal, and their daughters in denial.