Monday, October 26, 2015

Crunchy Chicken Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing 1

Like many of you I'm sure, I like to travel.  That said, I don't think I'm much of a tourist.  I usually don't have too much interest in popular tourist attractions, preferring instead (wherever I maybe) to search out the local food markets and making interesting food discoveries.  Returning from an overseas trip you are more likely to find my suitcase weighed down with jars of olive oil, tins of anchovies, or slabs of nougat, than bulging at the seams with souvenirs and clothes.  Case in point, I recently returned from a trip to Bali with blocks of peanut sate sauce and 50 beautiful vanilla beans.   Whilst on my stay in Bali I did a couple of great cooking classes (my other favourite thing to do when I'm travelling anywhere), and whilst we learnt how to make the delicious peanut sauce that you frequently finding accompany sate sticks or used in Gado Gado (an Indonesian salad of assorted steamed vegetables, often served with tofu and eggs, and liberally doused in peanut sauce), it turns out that most of the locals don't actually bother making their own peanut sauce, but use the concentrated blocks of it.  It keeps really well, is easy to use - simply break off a large chunk and dissolve in boiling water - and tastes every bit as good as making your own.

So now I have a stash of peanut sauce blocks, and I've been looking for different and interesting ways to use it.  Inspiration this week came from Erin at The Spiffy Cookie.  Erin's blog was my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month and her Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing was the perfect dish to not only use up some leftover roast chicken, but to also provide a home for some of my peanut sauce.

But before I move onto the recipe, let me tell you a little bit more about Erin and the Secret Recipe Club.   The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group.  That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret.  Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out.  It's always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs.   If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page.   As I mentioned this month I was assigned to The Spiffy Cookie, hosted by Erin, who has a PhD in Microbiology - yep, this girl is really smart - and loves to cook and bake for her family and friends.  She tries to stick to the healthier side of things foodwise, but admits that her favourite "food group" is dessert.  Erin also likes to keep herself fit with a regular work out regime, and to get crafty painting on canvas as well as ceramics.  She is a very prolific blogger, and so offered literally hundreds of recipes to choose from, and I've bookmarked a few to try at a later date:  Peanut Butter & Chocolate French Toast (yes, really!), Dark Cherry Chocolate Almond Granola Bars (what better way to start the day?), Gnocchetti with Asparagus & Garlic-Gorgonzola Sauce (it being asparagus season here, this one was a serious front runner), but it was the Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing that ticked all the boxes for me.

I varied some of the ingredients in the salad a little simply to suit what I had on hand or was readily available - for example, Erin used radicchio in her salad which was not available, so I added some baby spinach leaves in with the lettuce, and used some purple carrots for the colour.  I also subbed in some rocket leaves (arugula) for the coriander (cilantro) which I couldn't get, and replaced peanuts with cashew nuts because that's what I had on hand.  I'm also giving you here Erin's recipe for the peanut dressing, though I did (as I mentioned) sub in some of my Balinese peanut sauce.  In terms of the actual salad ingredients here, I don't think you need to be too fussy with quantities here - use what you have in whatever proportions you like and depending on how many people you need to feed.

Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing 2

Crunchy Chicken Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
Adapted slightly from this recipe
at The Spiffy Cookie

salad
cos lettuce
baby spinach leaves
orange carrot, very finely julienned
purple carrot, very finely julienned
red pepper, very finely sliced
cooked chicken, shredded
rocket leaves, roughly torn
roasted, unsalted cashew nuts
crispy noodles

dressing
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce
hot water

Begin by making the dressing.  Whisk together peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, lime juice and sriracha in a medium bowl.  Slowly whisk in hot water until you reach the consistency you want.  Set aside.

Assemble all your salad ingredients, except the cashew nuts and noodles, in a large bowl.  Toss together well, then arrange on a serving platter, or in individual bowls.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad liberally, and top with the nuts and noodles.

Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.




Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pasta with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto

Pasta with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto 1

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs sees the introduction of a new event - our monthly "featured chef" event, where each month we will be given the opportunity to celebrate the recipes of one of our previous IHCC celebrity chefs.  In keeping with this being the inaugural celebration, our featured chef this month is Nigella Lawson who was our very first IHCC chef.

Unfortunately, I didn't know about the group way back when they were cooking with Nigella until it was almost too late - I actually discovered the group just as they were saying farewell on their last week of their culinary journey with Nigella.  I came to the party with these Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes, which is still one of my go-to treats when I need a crowd or kiddy pleaser, and which actually consistently ranks in the top 10 of my most viewed posts of all time.

Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes 3

Looking for inspiration for this week's dish, I decided to break my copy of Nigellissima down from the bookshelf.  I have to admit that although I've had this one in my collection for quite a while, I actually haven't used it very much - no particular reason (it's actually a great book), but there just seems to often be other books I turned to first.

I found my inspiration in Nigella's Green Beans with Pistachio Pesto.  It's asparagus season here right now, and I just can't get enough of it, so I knew I was going to sub asparagus in for the beans.  I made a couple of other changes too, replacing basil in the pesto with some watercress and spinach (because that's what I had on hand, and because basil is not really readily available here yet), and adding pasta to turn this into a main meal instead of a side dish.

If I'm honest, much as I love the flavour of basil, I often find that as a flavour base for pesto it can seem a little overpowering.  Here I loved the more delicate flavour of the cress and spinach in this pesto, which really enabled the flavour of the pistachios to shine through.  This pesto is beautiful for dressing any green vegetable or pasta, would be a great addition to an antipasto platter, or delicious condiment in sandwiches or wraps.  I think this is bound to become a real summer staple in my house.

Note:  This will actually make more pesto than is required for the quantity of pasta and asparagus given, but some leftover pesto ready to dollop on some eggs, alongside some fish, or spread in a sandwich can never be a bad thing.  Pesto also freezes really well so you can enjoy it all year round - it's great to freeze in ice cube trays or small zip lock bag portions - great for using in soups and casseroles.

Pasta with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto 2

Pasta with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto
Serves two
Inspired by recipe from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson

250g penne pasta
8-10 fresh asparagus spears

for the pesto
large bunch watercress
2x large handfuls baby spinach leaves
1x clove garlic, roughly chopped
generous pinch flaky sea salt
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

to serve
freshly ground black pepper
extra parmesan

Begin by making the pesto.  Put watercress, spinach leaves, garlic and sea salt into a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.  Add pistachios and parmesan, and pulse again until the nuts have been roughly chopped.  Now with the motor running, add olive oil one tablespoon at a time until everything is chopped to a fine paste and fully amalgamated.  Remove from food processor and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt the water liberally, and add pasta to the boiling water.  Remove the woody ends from the asparagus, and cut asparagus into pieces about the same length as the pasta.  Once the pasta is halfway through the recommended cooking time, remove and retain one cup of the pasta water, and add asparagus pieces to the boiling water.  Continue cooking until the pasta is cooked but still al dente.

Remove from heat, drain, and immediately return the pasta and asparagus to the pan.  Add a couple of generous dollops of the pesto, and stir through enough of the reserved pasta water to loosen the pesto and make a sauce.  Keep stirring until everything is well coated with the pesto, then serve immediately.  Finish with freshly ground black pepper to your liking and a sprinkling of extra grated parmesan.

If you would like to get to know Nigella Lawson a little better, and to see all the wonderful dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.

I'm also sharing this post at Cook Your Books, hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Green Smoothie Bowls

Green Smoothie Bowl 4

I don't know if this happens to any of you, but I completely lose my cooking mojo over the cold winter months.  Whilst I know many of you relish those hearty comfort food dishes that we turn to so often once the weather turns chilly ... soups, stews, casserole, substantial puddings, and so on ... I personally could hardly give a "thank you" for them.  Sure, I don't mind those things occasionally (as in maybe once or twice a year), but I have no interest in any of it as regular fare.

As soon as the days begin to get longer and warmer, however, and the first asparagus spears appear at the market, my enthusiasm for cooking returns and sends me rushing to the kitchen with renewed creative spark.

I haven't cooked with my lovely friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs for a few months.  This week, however, they're beginning a new six month culinary journey with guest chef Ellie Krieger.  Ellie is a nutritionist, with a number of cookbooks and regular magazine features to her credit, and if you're a fan of Food TV you will almost certainly have come across her show featuring her unique blend of healthy meets delicious fare ... just my kind of food.

This week is a potluck challenge to choose a dish to welcome Ellie to the IHCC stable of celebrity chefs.   Scrolling through some of Ellie's contributions to the Washington Post, I came across her article and suggestions for smoothie bowls.  As Ellie says, the best reason to put your smoothie in a bowl is of course the toppings, and she served up a gorgeous looking cherry and banana smoothie, topped with fresh berries, flaked almonds, chia seeds and toasted coconut - gorgeous.

Green Smoothie Bowl 2

I've been on a major smoothie kick lately, and I'm always looking for new inspiration, so this idea was right up my alley.  But then I got to thinking - what if I gave this a savoury twist ... a delicately flavoured avocado and cucumber smoothie, given a little bit of a kick with peppery watercress, and spiked with lemon and mint.  And the toppings?  Some toasted pumpkin seeds, crispy, crumbled chorizo, and a sprinkling of wasabi peas for a bit of heat and extra crunch, and finished off with crisp shards of sourdough crackers.  Of course, if you want to keep this vegetarian - skip the chorizo.

This was deliciously light and refreshing, and the toppings added enough interest and substance to make this feel like a delicious and healthy lunch.  Thanks for the inspiration, Ellie - I think this could become a bit of a lunchtime staple over the summer months.

Green Smoothie Bowl 5

Green Smoothie Bowls Recipe
with inspiration from Ellie Krieger
Makes one generous serving
Vegetarian (if you leave out the chorizo)

for the smoothie
1x small avocado, cut into rough chunks
1/2 a telegraph cucumber, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
2x cups ice
half a dozen mint leaves, roughly torn
two large handfuls watercress leaves
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 to 1/2 cup almond milk
generous pinch flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the toppings
toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 a chorizo sausage, thinly sliced, fried until crisp, then very finely chopped
wasabi peas
sourdough crackers
anything else savoury and crunchy that you can think of

Place all of the smoothie ingredients in a blender and blitz until completely smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning or lemon juice to your liking.

Pour the smoothie into a bowl, and sprinkle toppings liberally over the top.

Dig in and enjoy!!

If you would like to get to know Ellie Krieger a little better, and to see all the wonderful "Welcome Ellie" dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.




Monday, September 28, 2015

Nutella Meringues

Nutella Meringues 2

I love the serendipitous nature of things at times.

It's Secret Recipe Club** time again, and this month I was assigned to Shockingly Delicious, hosted by the lovely Dorothy.   With 25 years of food writing and developing behind her, Dorothy has an absolute plethora of what she describes as "scrumptious, tried and true, scary good recipes" for her readers to choose from.

Difficult though it was to choose, I had shortlisted a few recipes from Dorothy's blog that I wanted to try:  Mango Orange Cream Power Smoothie and Orange Things Fruit & Vegetable Smoothie - okay, I've been on a massive smoothie kick lately so there was no question they were going to be front runners on the list;  Cheesy Skillet Gnocchi with Kale - I have a big weakness for gnocchi, and kale is very plentiful right now, making this a very strong contender in the mix;  and Nutella Meringues - well, who even needs a "because" for Nutella meringues!!

And this is where serendipity comes into play.  While I was in the midst of an inner debate between mango smoothies and cheesy gnocchi, a friend arrived to stay for a few days bearing a box of duck eggs collected from the brother of another friend.  This occasioned a bit of a Google search for some information about using duck eggs, whereupon I discovered that apparently duck eggs make the best meringues.  Well no prizes for guessing that the decision over which dish I would make was instantly nailed.

Further serendipity came today in the form of the sister of the provider of said duck eggs coming for lunch, and being able to serve her the Nutella meringues for dessert.  Jennifer is not normally a woman of few words, but as she took a bite out of one of these babies, she had just four words to say ... "Oh.  My.  God.  Awesome".  What more can I say?!  There is actually nothing that can be said about these meringues that is not summed up in those few words.  For an "awesome" experience I urge you to try them too.

** Interested to know a little bit more about Secret Recipe Club?  Then let me explain.  The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group.  That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret.  Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out.  It's always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs.   If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page.

Nutella Meringues 1

Nutella Meringues
from Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious
Makes 12 largish meringues
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/4 cup Nutella
3x large egg whites (duck eggs if you can get them are perfect, if not free range hen eggs)
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sugar

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F), and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Put Nutella in a small bowl and microwave for around 30 seconds to "loosen" the consistency.  Allow to cool if it has become warm.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they are foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and salt, and continue beating until the egg whites reach a soft peak stage.  Now increase the speed to high, and begin to add the sugar one spoonful at a time, beating well after each addition to ensure that the sugar is fully dissolved - be patient!!  By the time you've finished the meringue will be very thick and glossy.

Add the Nutella to the meringue and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the Nutella through - just enough to get a marbled effect.  Don't over mix.

Using two spoons drop dollops of meringue onto the lined baking sheet, and place in the preheated oven.  Turn the heat down to 95 degrees C (200 degrees F) and bake for one hour, by which time the meringues should feel "dry".  Turn the oven off and leave meringues in the oven until completely cold.

Remove and store in an airtight container.  Serve just as they are or sandwich together with whipped cream, then wait for the accolades.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.






Monday, July 27, 2015

Green Olive, Almond & Pomegranate Salad

Green Olive, Almond & Pomegranate Salad 1

I don't know about you, but for me it's round about this stage of winter that the blues really start to set in.  It's mid-winter and I've pretty much had enough of scraping the ice off the windscreen of my car every morning;  the joy and novelty of winter boots, coats, hats and scarves is wearing thin;  and if I see another root vegetable I'm going to scream!!

As you already know, if you stop by here on a regular basis, my meal of choice nine times out of ten will usually be a salad of some sort.  This of course can get a bit challenging in the middle of winter when so many of the ingredients we normally put into salads are out of season.

It's Secret Recipe Club week again, and this month I was assigned to Bewitching Kitchen, hosted by the lovely Sally.  Born and raised in Brazil, Sally's work as a biochemist has seen her live for a number of years in California and Paris, and currently in Manhatten.  Sally has a great sense of humour, which entertains us all at SRC on a regular basis, and that humour infuses the literally hundreds of posts which you will find on her blog.

Of course, I headed straight to the salad section of Sally's recipe index, and as soon as I saw "Green Olive, Walnut and Pomegranate Salad" I knew I had found my dish.  No seasonal ingredients required (well, there is pomegranate, but I always keep a stash of pomegranate seeds in the freezer, so no problem there), and sounded like a great combination of ingredients and textures.

Green Olive, Almond & Pomegranate Salad 2

I made only minimal changes to the recipe, to suit what I had on hand, and I was not disappointed.  I subbed in almonds for the walnuts, as that's what I had in the pantry, and I included the zest from the lemon that was juiced for the dressing.  This salad delivered on every level - brininess of the olives, crunch of the nuts and pomegranate seeds, little bit of sweet and sour from the pomegranate molasses, and citrus zing of lemon.

I loved this so much I made it twice within a few days.  The first time I served it in these lettuce cups - it was delicious to roll the salad up in the lettuce leaves, burrito-style - alongside slabs of fried haloumi cheese for a light lunch.  More recently this was a great accompaniment to some pan-seared monkfish.  This would also be great with roasted chicken.

Other dishes I found on Sally's blog which I can't wait to try are Pumpkin Shrimp Curry, a traditional Brazilian Shrimp Moqueca, and these amazing looking Black Pepper Cashews.

Interested to know a little bit more about Secret Recipe Club?  Then let me explain.  The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group.  That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret.  Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out.  It's a always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs.   If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page.

Green Olive, Almond & Pomegranate Salad 3

Green Olive, Almond & Pomegranate Salad Recipe
Adapted from this recipe
from Bewitching Kitchen
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/2 cup natural almonds
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped
seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
1x green chilli, finely chopped
large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1x lemon, zest and juice
2x tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1x tablespoon pomegranate molasses
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place almonds and cashews into a dry frying pan, and set over low heat.  Toast until golden brown.  Remove from heat, cool and chop roughly.

Place olives, pomegranate seeds, chilli, parsley and grated lemon zest in a bowl.  Add the chopped nuts, and mix all ingredients together well.

Drizzle over the lemon juice, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.  Mix once again to combine everything well.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

If time permits, allow salad to stand for an hour or two for the flavours to fully blend and develop.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto 1

I've been remiss with my blogging over the last few months - definitely not posting as regularly as I would like to, and it's been ages since I've posted anything over at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  I miss my friends and, since it's pot luck week this week, I thought I'd join in with a quick and easy Donna Hay dish that's become a bit of a favourite of mine.

Now let me preface this by saying that I've always been very firmly been of the view that a baked risotto will never be as good as a traditionally prepared version, a view that appeared to be supported by others I know who have given it a try.  I was pretty sure that as long as my backside pointed to the ground (as they say), I was never going to venture into baked risotto territory.

Well, one should never say "never".  I'd had Donna's recipe for this Prawn, Leek and Lemon Risotto bookmarked in my copy of "Fast, Fresh, Simple" for ages because I think this is such a winning flavour combination.  Donna's version is however a baked one, and I was pretty sure that I would just take those ingredients and use them in my usual stirred method for making risotto.

A couple of weeks ago though, I was really hankering for some risotto on a cold and miserable winter week night, but I had other things I needed to be doing and just didn't have the time to spare standing over a pot for 20 to 30 minutes.  So, I took a deep breath, threw caution to the wind, and made my first baked risotto.  I fully expected that without all that constant stirring my risotto wouldn't have the creaminess I was used to from my usual version, but I was surprised to find it was plenty creamy - I think a good knob of butter up front, and another one to finish with, probably helped with that, and I have the feeling that using my enamelled cast iron casserole dish also helped.

So final verdict - no deficit on the "creaminess" front, and the resulting risotto was just about as good as a stirred version.   In my mind, however, a large part of the joy of risotto comes from the sheer pleasure of standing and stirring that pot for up to half an hour - it's a great exercise in presence and mindfulness, and that matters to me a great deal, and I have the belief that it is this which translates into superior flavour rather than just the physical alchemy of stirring those starchy grains of rice around for 20 minutes.  So, yes, I think a stirred risotto will always be superior - you will taste the love that's been stirred into it in every mouthful - but for a quick mid-week fix when you have other things to get done this is a great alternative, and I loved it so much that I've made it several times since.  I hope you'll give it a try.

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto 2

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto Recipe
Adapted slightly from recipe by Donna Hay
from Fast, Fresh, Simple
Serves 2
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
couple of generous knobs of butter
1/2 a leek thinly sliced
2x cloves garlic, crushed
1x lemon, zest and juice
1 cup arborio rice
2-1/2 cups vegetable stock
200g raw prawns, peeled and cleaned
large handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).

Put olive oil and one generous knob of butter in an ovenproof dish, which has a tight fitting lid.  Set dish over medium heat, and once the butter has melted add the leek, garlic and lemon zest to the pan.  Cook for several minutes until the leek has softened, but not browned.  Add the rice to the pan and stir constantly for a couple of minutes until all the rice is completely coated with the oil and the grains look slightly translucent around the edges.  Add half the lemon juice to the pan, and stir constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Now add all the stock to the pan, remove from the heat and cover tightly.

Place pan in the preheated oven and cook for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and set the pan over medium heat again.  If all the liquid has already been absorbed, add a ladleful of hot water to the pan along with the prawns.  Stir constantly until the prawns are cooked through - about 4 or 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the other generous knob of butter, the remaining lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.  Cover and allow to stand for five minutes for all the flavours to infuse, and then serve immediately.

If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the wonderful fast and fabulous dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.

Because it's been a while since I've visited some of my other friends, I'll also be sharing this post this week at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.

Weekend Cooking Badge     Foodie Friday Badge



Monday, June 22, 2015

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream 2

I'm sure you all know this feeling ... you come across a recipe - on another blog, in a book, in a magazine, wherever - and you're utterly captivated by it.  The picture makes it look beautiful, the recipe sounds great, but then somehow it just fails to live up to expectations, leaving you feeling more than a little disappointed.

So let me tell you - this ice cream was not good, not good at all.  Was I disappointed, however? - no, on the contrary, because this ice cream exceeded my expectations - it wasn't just good, it was fabulous.  I love ice cream any time of year (case in point, it is currently the middle of winter in my part of the world), and this ice cream offered the sweet freshness of blueberries (reminding me that summer will come again), the tang of lemon, and thanks to the buttermilk was surprisingly fresh and light.

How did I stumble across this frozen scoop of joy?  Well, as those of you who visit regularly will know, I like to play along at the Secret Recipe Club.  If that's new to you then let me explain.  The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group.  That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret.  Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out.  It's a always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs.   If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page.

This month I was assigned to A Calculated Whisk, hosted by the lovely Becky.  Becky's blog features loads of creative gluten free and paleo recipes, so I knew I would have no problem finding the kind of healthy food that I like to enjoy - even treat food that is on the healthy side.  Her blog features a great recipe index, which makes finding just what your heart desires ever so easy, and her passion for food styling and photography is evident in the gorgeous images that grace all her recipes.  With her love for good healthy eating and practising yoga, Becky and I clearly have a great deal in common - it's such a shame that a great ocean divides us, as I would love to be able to roll out my mat and do some yoga with Becky, before heading to the kitchen to whip up some special post-practice treats.  But stranger things have happened and who knows when the opportunity to do just that might arise.  Until then, I can keep Becky close in the kitchen by cooking some of her recipes, and I can tell you there are quite a few that have been bookmarked for the weeks ahead:  Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Cilantro Pesto, because cauliflower is one vegetable I can never get enough of;  Zucchini Lasagne, just take a look - you will want it too;  Kale & Bacon Quiches with Hash Brown Crust, hello?! - if you're not hooked at bacon, I defy you to get past the hash brown crust;  and Lemon Cheesecake Truffles, look so utterly divine I can't wait to try them.

But in the end, being the ice cream addict I am, I couldn't go past Becky's Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream, and I was certainly not disappointed.  This ice cream is light and luscious, and in the depths of winter reminded me of the possibility of summer days ahead.  I made very minimal changes to the original recipe.  Because the buttermilk is low in fat and there are no eggs in this recipe, Becky used gelatine in her version to add a little creaminess - I didn't have any gelatine on hand, but I did have half a can of sweetened condensed milk that needed to be used up, so I used that instead and cut back the honey in the original recipe a little bit.  Becky also used some lemon liqueur which I didn't have, so I subbed in a whole fresh lemon.  I hope you'll give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I am.

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream 1

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
Adapted from this recipe
from A Calculated Whisk
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon honey
1x lemon, washed
2 cups frozen blueberries (do not defrost)
2/3 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of  sea salt

Place 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into a small saucepan and set over low heat and warm gently - keep an eye on it and do not allow the mixture to come to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the condensed milk and honey, stirring until dissolved.

Cut the lemon into smallish chunks, flick out any seeds, and then put all the lemon chunks (yes, skin and all) into the food processor and blitz until very finely chopped, almost a puree.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the food processor, along with the blueberries, cream, vanilla and salt.  Process until smooth, then transfer to a jug and refrigerate for a few hours.

Remove chilled mixture from the fridge and churn in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's instructions.  Dive in straight away, or transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze for several hours to firm up.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.