Semifreddo

All out of nowhere, London is seeing sunny blue skies and highs of 20’C. The weather forecast is also looking remarkably good for the next few days, and I am simply combusting with excitement at the thought of revisiting Scoop this weekend after several months of not gorging on their delicious gelato.

I was initially planning to blog about a Persian pomegranate and walnut chicken stew I made a while ago, but decided that this unprecedented excellent weather warranted a “summery” post. The stew will just have to wait, as delicious as it was!

I made semifreddo for the first time last summer (and yes, they have sat in my pile of backlogs for almost a year now), and thought the good weather was an excellent reason to finally blog about them.

Semifreddo is Italian for “half cold”, and refers to any type of semi-frozen dessert. I call it the “cheats” way to making ice cream, as no churning is needed to make it i.e. no ice cream maker needed. And seeing as I’ve been trying to refrain from adding to my evergrowing collection of kitchen appliances (I am fast running out of counter space!), semifreddo will do very nicely thank you. Till I eventually get an ice cream maker, that is.

I made two batches of semifreddo: one with gooseberries, and the other with raspberries. I also experimented with various ways of presenting the semifreddo, as you can probably tell from the photos. I made some into pops, some into a ‘loaf’, and some into mooncakes.The mooncake moulds I used are jelly molds, and I did worry that the semifreddo would not unmold properly… thankfully they managed to retain the intricate designs post-unmolding!

What I really enjoyed whilst making this was the flexibility to experiment – you can choose to make seperate fruit/semifreddo layers, swirl the fruit mixture into the semifreddo, or use the fruits as they are. I initially planned to make a raspberry swirl semifreddo in a loaf shape, but got too lazy to puree the raspberries and so just used the berries whole. It worked out well though as most of the raspberries sunk to the bottom and thus produced quite a lovely design.

This is a very easy frozen treat to make, and I shall definitely be experimenting with more flavours this summer. Am already planning to make a black forest version (with cherries, kirsch and chocolate) as well as an apple crumble version. Ooooh the possibilities.

What is your favourite semifreddo/ice cream flavour?

Basic semifreddo mixture
Adapted from a recipe in Donna Hay Magazine, issue 49

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, extra
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups single cream (alternatively, you can use whipping cream, or even double cream)

1. Place the eggs, extra yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Heat bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, and using a hand held electric mixer, beat for 6-8 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and pale. (I use a hand held electric whisk, but I’m sure a normal whisk would do just as nicely)
2. Remove bowl from the heat, and beat for a further 6-8 minutes, or until cool.
3. In a clean bowl, whisk the single cream until soft peaks form.
4. Gently fold the cream through the egg mixture until well combined.
5. (If you are planning to make a flavoured version, add your fruits/fruit puree/other ingredients now.)
6. Pour into 2 litre capacity mold/tin.* Freeze for 6 hours, or overnight.

* Alternatively you may choose to make individual portions of semifreddo – if this is the case, use small containers/bowls/tins/glasses. If you make it in a loaf tin and intend to unmold it whole (instead of scooping out individual scoops of semifreddo), do remember to line the loaf tin with clingfilm before filling it with the semifreddo mixture.

For the raspberry semifreddo:
Mix 750g raspberries with 2 tbsp icing sugar, and stir until the raspberries are slightly macerated. Add this to the semifreddo mixture after step (4) above.

For the gooseberry semifreddo:
Mix 600g gooseberries with 1/4 cup caster sugar. You may need more sugar if your gooseberries are very tart. Cook in a pan over low heat, until the gooseberries break down slightly (it took me approximately 10 minutes to get to this stage). Add this to the semifreddo mixture after step (4) above.

A birthday cake (and some food)

I still remember the first time I baked a birthday cake – it was about 4 years ago in my tiny little kitchen, where I impulsively decided to bake a simple chocolate cake for my flatmate. Being completely clueless about cake decorating, I just used halved strawberries along the sides of the cake, and was happy when it looked reasonably presentable. Fast forward to 4 years later, when I start planning what cake to make at least a week in advance, and inevitably ending up with too many ideas.

I went through the very same process during R’s birthday, and didn’t actually manage to decide which cake I would make until I was shopping for the ingredients. Shocking, I know. Anyway, I finally decided on Tartelette’s chocolate, mango and coconut cream cake. The vibrant colours just looked so beautiful, and I knew R would like the tropical theme of the cake.

(Edit: Just a note to say that all this took place more than a month ago, I just didn’t get around to posting till now. :P)

As you can see, I didn’t do terribly well with the cake as I am completely incompetent when it comes to splitting cakes into half. I have much to learn! 😛 Alternatively, I may just bake each layer in a seperate tray instead of trying to split an already thin cake into half… Despite the rather “uneven” look, the cake was delicious. The sponge layers were the best sponge cakes I’ve ever baked, and I think I’ll be using Helen’s recipe from now on. I did find that the mango mousse was not “mango-ey” enough for me, but this may have been because I used canned mangoes instead of fresh.

I topped the cake with some raspberries, lemon swirls, and dried mango slices (only thought of the mango once I sliced it up, which is why it’s not in the photo above).

And of course, it wasn’t just about the cake – there had to be some food as well…

A very simple proscuitto wrapped tomato/buffalo mozzarella salad, topped with fresh basil leaves and a dash of olive oil. This was inspired by a recipe in Donna Hay magazine (as always!), and was wonderfully delicious. I chose this primarily because it was very simple, and because I knew I would be spending a long time on the cake. Definitely something I will make again in the future.

Beer bacon wrapped beef fillet with a mushroom sauce, served with cheesy semolina. This was also a Donna Hay recipe. I was originally slightly disappointed as my sauce was not as dark as it appeared to be in the photos that accompanied this recipe – but as it still tasted amazingly good, I just had to be content with less attractive photos.

In the end, we were so stuffed from all the food that we couldn’t even eat the cake. That’s saying something as I always have room for dessert. R just blew out the candles, and we had to wait till the next day to eat the cake.

The recipe of the chocolate mango and coconut cream cake can be found here.

Beer bacon wrapped beef fillet with mushroom sauce
Adapted from a recipe in Donna Hay magazine, issue 40

  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 3/4 cup dark ale
  • 2 x 200g beef fillet steaks
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 150g chestnut/white mushrooms
  • 150g oyster mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 2 slices of cheese (I used raclette)

1. Place the bacon rashers in a bowl, and pour the ale over it. Leave to marinade for at least 1 hour.
2. Remove bacon rashers from the bowl, and reserve the ale. Wrap a bacon rasher around each beef fillet steak.
3. Heat oven to 180°C. In the meantime, brush the steaks with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Cook the steaks in a hot ban for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they brown. Place the browned steaks in a baking tray and cook for 8-10 minutes (I like my beef to be medium-rare). Set aside and keep warm.
5. Heat some oil in a pan, and fry the mushrooms until they are browned (should take 1-2 minutes). Add the beef stock and reserved ale, and cook for 2 minutes. If you want to make the sauce thicker, either add some cornflour to the mixture, or cook until it reduces.
6. Place the steaks on a plate, top with the raclette cheese, and spoon over the mushroom sauce.

Note: I also served this with some cheesy semolina. This was simply semolina cooked with milk and some soft cheese.

Having fun with turkey leftovers

I have a confession. I cook turkey for Christmas so I can have tons of turkey leftovers. You see, I think there’s just something so enjoyable about coming up with new dishes from something old. 🙂

As most of my friends have either left London or were not here over Christmas, it was just R and I trying to eat a 5kg turkey. (I did try to look for a smaller turkey, but that was the smallest one they had in store!) But I wasn’t complaining, as it meant I would have lots and lots of leftovers to play around with!

One of the dishes I made was a turkey leftovers pizza. This was inspired by a pizza feature in one of the issues of Donna Hay magazine… as you can see, I am easily swayed by good looking food. Although I’d never tried anything like this before, I decided to just go for it as I figured it would be hard to go wrong when it came to pizzas.

I made the pizza bases with wholemeal flour as I had run out of plain bread flour, and I must say I could hardly tell that it was wholemeal. In fact, I might start using a mix of plain/wholemeal flour for pizzas in the future. For the fillings, I used all the leftovers from the dinner (except the gravy) – turkey, brussel sprouts, stuffing, potatoes and even the cranberry sauce!

And despite the fact that this was a very ‘thrown together’ (or as we Malaysian’s would say – “rojak” style) dish, both of us really enjoyed it! Though to be fair, it’s hard to not like pizzas. 😛 I do wish that I had rolled out the dough to make thinner pizzas though. I should also seriously consider getting a pizza stone…

I also made some Asian inspired turkey ‘salad’ , which I also made last year. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe, which I originally thought was no longer available online. (I have since found the recipe here). As I didn’t have a recipe at the time, I decided to just work from memory. What I like most about this is that the turkey becomes really nice and crispy – slightly reminiscent of crispy duck. When eaten with the crunchy cashews and sweet cranberries… yum. We had the salad with a hoisin based sauce, smeared on a homemade tortilla.

The last thing I made with the turkey leftovers was a turkey and leek fusilli. This was a very simple dish, tossed together in a matter of minutes. Rather terribly, I had leftovers from this dish itself, so baked it with a mozzarella topping the following day – and I have to say it tasted better baked. Or maybe it was all that cheese….

I really enjoyed our turkey leftovers this year, and am already counting down to the next time I get to do this all over again. So if you ever are faced with tons of leftovers, just remember that there is always a good way to use them! 🙂

Turkey leftovers pizza

For the pizza dough:
Recipe from Donna Hay magazine, issue 47

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (I used wholemeal bread flour)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Place the sugar and water in a bowl, and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the sugared water, and leave for 10 minutes until bubbles appear on its surface.
2. Place the flour, sea salt, and olive oil in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, and mix using the dough hook on slow speed until a dough is formed (this normally takes me 7-10 minutes). The dough should be soft and elastic.
3. Divide the dough into (roughly) equal sized balls – you can make either large or small pizzas, depending on what you prefer. Cover with a teacloth or clingfilm, and leave to rise for 30 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
4. Press each dough ball into a round, and roll out to the desired size. The pizza dough is now ready to use.

For the toppings:
I don’t have a proper recipe for this, but I used the following ingredients, and just randomly threw them onto the pizza bases. 😉 Quantities don’t really matter as it really depends on how much of each you have available.

  • torn pieces of leftover turkey
  • sliced leftover brussel sprouts
  • sliced leftover potatoes
  • 2cm cubes of leftover stuffing
  • mozzarella, torn
  • cranberry sauce

Turkey and leek fusilli

  • 500g fusilli
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and chopped into ~2cm pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can chicken/mushroom soup (I used Campbell’s chicken soup)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the fusilli in a pot of salted boiling water, for about 7-10 minutes, or until it is cooked al dente. Drain the fusilli and set aside.
2. Heat some olive oil in a pan over high heat. Fry the garlic for 1 minute or so until it becomes fragrant.
3. Add the chopped leeks, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the shredded turkey, followed by the can of soup. Turn down the heat, and leave to simmer for 1 minute.
5. Toss the fusilli with the sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you wish, grate some parmesan to serve.

*Alternatively, cook the pasta as above, top with torn mozzarella and put in the oven until the cheese melts to become a yummy gooey mess.

Asian inspired turkey ‘salad’
Inspired by this recipe from Jamie Oliver

For the turkey ‘salad’:

  • 2 cups brown turkey meat
  • 1 cup  cashew nuts
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons ground five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of brown sugar

1. Put a pan on medium high heat, and shred the turkey meat into the pan using your fingers.
2. Add the cashews, dried cranberries and five spice powder. Stir till all the ingredients are well mixed, and let it toast whilst you make the sauce.
3. To make the sauce, just mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they’re well combined.
4. Smear some sauce on a tortilla, top with the turkey ‘salad’, wrap – and serve!

Note: I also served my tortillas with (leftover) potatoes and stuffing.


If you’re interested in making your own tortillas:
Homemade tortillas
Adapted from this recipe from Cooking Mexican Recipes

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons corn oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water

1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and oil to the flour mixture, and mix with the dough hook attachment until a dough is formed. (This took about 7 minutes for me.) If your dough is too sticky, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the right consistency.
2. Divide the dough into equal sizes (mine were probably 30-40g each), and leave to rise for a few minutes.
3. In the meantime, heat a pan (nonstick or cast iron) over high heat.
4. Flatten the dough rounds (on a lightly floured surface), and roll them out into rounds roughly 4-5 inches in diameter.
5. Place the rolled out tortilla in the heated pan and cook for 30 seconds until brown spots appear on its surface. Flip over, and cook for another 30 seconds on the other side. Be careful to not overcook the tortilla as it becomes very hard and crunchy if you do so – I made this mistake with my first tortilla, but I can’t say I was complaining as I thought it tasted like a healthier version of Doritos! 😛

Burger heaven

The weather in London has been terrible lately – rain, rain and more rain. (With a little bit of sunshine thrown in once in a while.) If I had my own way, I would hide indoors the everytime it rains, curled up in my duvet whilst drinking a hot drink of some sort. Unfortunately life can’t stop whilst the weather is miserable, which is why I turn to food to cheer me up.

I first came across these burgers in Donna Hay magazine – they were in a feature called ‘Posh Patties’, and I fell in love almost immediately. The burgers looked so good that I was almost salivating with hunger. Though to be fair, I love most of the photos in Donna Hay magazine, as it is the ultimate food porn. I mean, the photographers manage to make lemon slices look absolutely stunning. How ridiculous is that? 😛

I love most burgers, and these are no exception. I especially like the vegetarian burger as it uses halloumi, which has a very meaty texture, and goes amazingly well with the grilled vegetables. I also decided to make the burger buns from scratch as I have this disease where I feel the need to use my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer at every possible opportunity. The buns came out really well and I was very pleased with how they turned out!

Burger buns
From the King Arthur Flour website

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I later felt this might have been too much, I’ll cut down on sugar the next time I make this)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
  • sesame seeds

1. Put the lukewarm water and sugar into a bowl of a stand mixer, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast over the sugar and water mixture, and leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to “bubble”.
2. Add the bread flour, salt, egg, and butter to the yeast mixture, and mix on low speed (with a dough hook) for 8-10 minutes until the mixture forms a nice dough. If you find that the dough is too sticky, just add more flour until the dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; use a some kitchen roll to oil the bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with clingfilm or a tea towel, and leave to rise until doubled in size. (usually takes an hour)*
4. Divide dough into 6 equal portions, and shape each portion into a burger shaped bun. Leave to rise again until they become very puffy (about an hour). **
5. If you wish, brush the burger buns with an egg wash, and sprinkle sesame seeds on the tops. Alternatively, just dust the buns with flour.
6. Bake the buns in a preheated oven at 190°C, for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool.

*It was at this point I left the house to do some shopping, and I ended up leaving the dough to rise for a good 3 hours.
**I only left it to rise for 15 minutes as I didn’t have enough time to wait a whole hour… or roughly translated as: I was getting hungry. 😛

Roasted tomato, aubergine, and halloumi burger
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
(Serves 2)

  • 1 tomato, thickly sliced
  • 2 burger buns, sliced
  • 1 aubergine, sliced
  • 200g halloumi, sliced
  • olive oil
  • harrisa mayonnaise (I added some harissa to Japanese mayonnaise, how much harissa you use depends on how spicy you want your mayo)
  • caramelised red onions
  • rocket leaves

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the tomato on a baking tray and brush with oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until cook. Set aside.
2. Brush the bun halves with oil, and place them (cut sides down) on a non-stick pan over a high heat, until the surfaces are golden brown.
3. Heat a grill pan (I use a Chasseur grill pan) over high heat. Brush the aubergine slices with oil, and grill for 2 minutes on each side. Cook the haloumi slices in the same way.
4. Spread the bun halves with the harissa mayonnaise. Top the bottom half of the burger bun with the tomato slices, aubergine, haloumi, caramelised onions and rocket leaves. And enjoy!

Cheeseburger

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
(serves 4)

  • 500g beef mince
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 portebello mushrooms
  • 4 burger buns, halved
  • olive oil
  • 200g sliced Swiss cheese
  • caramelised red onions
  • rocket leaves

1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Mix the beef mince, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce in bowl, and mix to combine. Divide into 4 equal portions, shape into patties and wrap it in a slice of Swiss cheese. Place on a baking tray, and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and patties are cooked through.
3. Place the mushrooms on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and roast for 8-10 minutes. (I cook the mushrooms and the beef patties in the oven at the same time)
3. Brush the bun halves with oil, and place them (cut sides down) on a non-stick pan over a high heat, until the surfaces are golden brown.
4. Top half a burger bun with another slice of cheese, beef patty, mushroom, caramelised onions, rocket leaves and top half of the burger bun. Sit back and bite into the meaty goodness that is this burger.