Rhubarb Lime Vanilla Bean Sorbet

DSC_0810aI rediscovered my passion for obsession with making ice cream when I co-hosted a dinner party with my lovely and talented friend Nicola last month. Nicola is the owner and founder of http://www.souschef.co.uk, a specialty food export company that sells hard-to-find cheffy ingredients and equipment to home cooks. (Sorry American friends, Sous Chef only ships to the EU for now.) Nicola had a surfeit of pistachio paste (what a wonderful thing to have too much of!) so we decided to make Orangette’s chocolate tart with salted pistachio ice cream for dessert. I took charge of the ice cream and I did not stint with the pistachio paste. The result was wonderful. (Nicola has since blogged a recipe for salted pistachio ice cream using the very same pistachio paste.) Ice creams and sorbets are a fun challenge for home cooks, involving in equal measure the palate and food science. Flavor is key, of course, and limited only by your imagination, but mouth feel is of equal importance. Continue reading

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Rhubarb and Custard Victoria Sponge

DSC_0476bMany apologies for the long hiatus between blog posts. I have been travelling, eating, playing, and of course cooking. I’ve got fun posts coming up, including my new favorite restaurant in Paris and my foodie adventures in Istanbul. But for now I bring you this lovely cake.

I was unfamiliar with that wonderful British classic, the Victoria sponge, until I moved to London. As with many traditional English sweets, this cake is a keeper. In its simplest form, Victoria sponge is just two vanilla sponge cakes, sandwiched around jam and clotted cream, or whipped cream and fresh berries, and dusted with powdered sugar.  But of course this formula can be tweaked in numerous delicious ways. Continue reading

Rhubarb Sour Cream Scones

I have never been a fan of austerity in baking. Give me egg yolks. Give me butter. Give me cream or, better yet, give me buttercream. I don’t want to eat dessert, I want Dessert with a capital D. Which is why, for many years, I did not understand the appeal of scones. My mother didn’t bake them, so the scones I ate were store-bought, dry, crumbly things, perhaps adorned with a few miserly flecks of dried currants, that stuck to the roof of my mouth like paste no matter how much jam I slathered on them.

Everything changed, however, when I made cream scones for the first time. Oh how deliciously the crumbs of butter and flour clung together, moistened by thick cold cream. Folded with fresh berries, baked until golden brown, and served warm with (yes!) more butter and jam, cream scones were (and still are) my idea of heaven. Continue reading

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake with Rhubarb-Blood Orange Compote and Creme Anglaise

Olive oil cake is a baking miracle. Those of us (like me) who are used to classic French baking techniques reflexively think of olive oil as a savoury ingredient only. But when olive oil is substituted for butter in cakes, it produces a moist cake with a dense crumb and an incredibly light, fluffy texture, almost like an Asian sponge cake. It’s cake perfection. Since I started baking olive oil cakes, I’ve been playing with various combinations of flavours and ratios of olive oil and flour and eggs and sugar, and this cake is unquestionably my favourite: it’s the lightest and most delicate. Continue reading