The Easiest Coffee Ice Cream You Will Ever Make

And probably one of the best tasting too! Christmas madness is starting to kick in around here. It will be a quiet but fun affair Chez Chica and Big Man – my parents are coming for Christmas so whilst it will be a small group, the food will still be cooked and enjoyed together, glasses will be raised to loved ones not with us, and of course silly hats will be worn.

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As you know, Christmas tends to be quite a multicultural affair in our home. That way we get to enjoy the best of everything. Big Man is on his way back from a trip to Spain and hopefully his suitcase is full of tasty goodies from Andalucía. We’ll be eating Panettone on Christmas morning and after lunch we’ll hotly debate whether Turrón or Torrone is better. And in a change from the roast lamb or beef we generally eat, we’re going for Goose this year. Yum…it’s been a few years since I cooked one as they’re not so good for larger gatherings as although they have loads of flavour, you need to buy one the size of a bungalow to feed a crowd.

I’m making things that I know we’ll love (why wouldn’t I?!) and I know my mum, although not a big dessert eater, loves coffee flavoured ice cream. Big Man is of the opinion that a law should be passed to make it obligatory to eat ice cream every day and my dad and I will let them tuck in whilst we tuck into the cheese and nuts.

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe, and perfect for a last minute dessert if you don’t fancy making custard…

Ingredients (makes about a litre)

  • 600ml of double cream (heavy or whipping cream)
  • 1 tin of condensed milk (mine was 397g)
  • 4 tablespoons of instant espresso coffee powder

Whip all the ingredients together until thick and soft peaks are formed. Pour into your freezer proof container and freeze until solid. No churning, no whipping. Remove from the freezer a few minutes before you want to eat it to let it soften a little and enjoy. See, I told you it was easy!

Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
one ha’ penny,
two ha’ penny,
hot cross buns.

If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons,
one ha’ penny,
two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns

So, Easter is upon us and Lenten fasting and abstinence for those who participate is soon at an end. One of the delights of this time of year when I lived in the UK was to eat Hot Cross Buns. They are sweet, spiced buns marked with a cross to commemorate the Crucifixion.

Finally...lovely buns!

Mad Dog did an excellent post last week about the same subject, and I wish I had gone to his recipe suggestions when I first decided to make some.  I have made them here in Spain a few times and I have several recipes…but do you think I could remember which one I had used?

First of all I tried Delia Smith´s recipe – aside from deciding to make the dough in my bread maker then forgetting it was in there on a bake programme…well, the result was a hugely over risen loaf that was raw in the middle.

Oh no Delia...you let me down!

Next up a Rachel Allen Recipe….they would have been good to use as missiles in a Mediaevel battle recreation.

Finally I turned to the BBC Good Food Website. Here is the original recipe, but my version is below as I found the dough a little too wet and I wanted more spices.

For the Dough

  • 300ml of full fat milk
  • 50g butter
  • 550g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet of easy blend yeast
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 75g sultanas
  • Up to 100g of chopped mix peel
  • Grated zest of half a lemon and one orange
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger

For the Cross

  • 4 tablespoons of flour gradually mixed with drops of water until a thick paste is made

For the Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons of sieved, warmed apricot jam

Bring the milk almost to the boil, drop the butter in and stir until the butter has melted and then put aside to cool to hand temperature.

In a bowl mix the flour, salt, yeast, spices and sugar and add the milk mixture and egg.  Mix with a wooden spoon, then with your hands then remove from the bowl and begin to knead. I still found it overly sticky but my egg was very large so I added small amounts of flour gradually until the dough was workable. Knead for about 5mins and then put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

When risen, knock it back and add the fruits and peel, knead again and leave to rise a second time. This is not for people in a hurry!

After the second rise, knock the dough back again and dived into equal sized balls for the buns. The original recipe suggests 15, I got 24 good sized buns from my mix.

Place the buns, slightly spaced apart on lined baking trays, cover with tea towels and leave for another hour.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees C (the recipe says 220 but I did the first batch at this temp and the bottoms burnt slightly). Now you need to pipe the flour paste over the buns into crosses. I used a sandwich bag with a point cut off the end to do this.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and gorgeous. Warm the jam and brush over the still warm buns to glaze.

Enjoy as they are or split (toasted or not) with butter. Happy Easter to you All!

Clara´s Pastry and Up the Mountain Mince Pies

Don´t recommend cooking these during a power cut!

Last Christmas Eve, which is the Big Night here as far as Christmas dining goes, we were a “small” group of only about 20 over at Big Man´s mother´s home. He comes from 10 siblings, all apart from one have at least two children.  Most of the neices are nephews are also married and have children of their own, so you can imagine what family weddings are like.

Because I have the biggest oven, I was put in charge of cooking 2 whole lambs.  Even though they weren´t enormous by some standards, it was a whole lot of lamb and a whole lot of cooking.  In true Up the Mountain style, we had a power cut on the evening of 23rd December which lasted 24 hours.  Luckily my oven is gas, so cooking the meat was not a problem but I was doing it by torch and candlelight.  As they tend to eat their meat cooked through here, and I had to ensure it wasn´t remotely pink, keep it warm and transport it 25km whilst ensuring no one went down with food poisoning, it was challenging to say the least.

Yesterday, we ran out of gas.  Not through negligence on my part but because the man who delivers the gas cylinders (no mains gas Up the Mountain) seems to have disappeared and we haven´t been able to swap the empty “bombonas” for full  ones for a few weeks.  Not to worry I thought, planning my baking today, I can use my little electric oven and Big Man can load the empty bombonas onto the truck and drive to the nearest village which stocks them and change them over.

Meanwhile last night, the lights went out, then came back on, but it looked as though they were being run by a generator fired up by an old lady pedaling slowly on a rickety old bicycle.  As I type this I am working on battery power, fingers crossed things resolve themselves soon and I can cook, bake and post.

Today I will make mince pies.  I don´t come from a family of great pastry chefs, but my best friend Ria, luckily does.  Her mum, Clara, makes the best pastry ever, and like many people of her generation, does it without a list of ingredients or measuring.  When I moved to Spain I remember calling her one Christmas in desperation and she yelled the ingredients down the phone to me which I then managed to transfer into measurements I can use.  She always uses margarine in hers with lard, I use butter and lard.  You can use all butter, the choice is yours, but don´t blame me if the pastry is not as good as Clara´s.

Ingredients

  • 200g plain flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 50g each of cold butter and lard
  • One egg, beaten
  • Milk

Rub the fat into the flour and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (I won´t tell Clara if you do this in a food processor….not an option for me today with the electric situation), Then using a broad knife, work the egg into the flour.  Now gently start to bring the pastry together with your hands.  You will probably need to add a very little milk so add drops rather than slugs.  This morning I used about a tablespoon.

Now wrap in plastic and leave to rest in the fridge until you are ready to use it, but bring it up to room temperature first.

Bake at about 200ºC when you have filled with mincemeat, jam, whatever.  Obviously I had another power cut mid way through baking today, hopefully you won´t and yours will be perfect!

I made my  mince pies using my mincemeat, but even a humble jam tart is elevated to perfection with this biscuity pastry.  Clara doesn´t bake anymore, but I hope she´s proud that her recipe is being shared for so many others to enjoy.

Merry Christmas Clara – wish we could have a sherry and a mince pie together this year!