05/08/2005

Simple soft-scoop vanilla ice cream

To make 1 litre (approx 1 American quart):

1 large can evaporated milk (approx 400ml), chilled overnight in the fridge
100g sugar (about 1/2 US cup)

1 tsp vanilla essence (extract)
(or other flavourings - see below)

Method:
Put the evaporated milk into a large bowl or food processor, and whisk with an electric whisk until it's very thick, with the beaters leaving a clear trail. It takes about 30 seconds, usually, depending on room temperature and the effectiveness of the whisk.

Add the sugar and essence and beat that in too for a few seconds. Transfer to an electric ice cream maker and churn for about an hour, then put in a plastic container with a lid and freeze. No need to thaw before serving as the whipped evaporated milk makes it soft-scoop style.

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If you don't have an electric churn, put the bowl in the freezer, then take it out after an hour and beat with a hand whisk. Repeat this several times until it's firm. I find the ice cream churn is well-worth having. I found mine at a thrift store, but they're not too expensive new. Just make sure the capacity is at least a litre.

Don't even try this if you don't have an electric whisk or food processor, however. Beating evaporated milk with a hand whisk would be extremely hard work.

Other flavours: for an excellent chocolate ice cream, mix a heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder with a little cold water, to make a smooth paste, then mix in a little more cold water to get to pouring consistency. Add this after the sugar has been whisked into the evaporated milk, and stir gently with a metal spoon. No need to mix in thoroughly, as the ice cream churn will do that.

For fruit ice cream, mash or purée about 100g fruit, and stir in after the sugar has been whisked in. If you use bananas, use soft brown sugar rather than white. Canned peaches work well (drain before mashing) as do raspberries. Strawberries are better with a cream-based mixture, in my view, however.

Frappé

To serve one:

1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
ice cubes
COLD water (refrigerated)
cold milk (optional)

Method:
Put the coffee, sugar if used, ice cubes and about 3/4 cup cold water in a large jar with a well-fitting lid (such as an empty coffee jar). Screw the lid on tightly, then shake hard up and down for about 30 seconds. This creates a slightly thickened, frothy mixture. Pour into a tall glass.

Put about the same quantity of milk (or more water) in the same jar and shake a few times more, then add to the glass, topping up with more milk or water as needed.

Drink with a straw.

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Most Cypriots use frappé-makers, which are like little electric whisks to make the coffee mixture froth up quickly. We've tried them, but prefer the old-fashioned method above. The taste is much the same either way. It's very important to use cold water. Lukewarm, even with extra ice cubes, doesn't seem to work.

Although I don't have sugar in coffee normally, I do like frappés with about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. If you normally have sugar in coffee, you may find you want a bit extra for a frappé. You might also want to use more coffee; the person who initially taught us to make this used two heaped teaspoons per person. If I have that much caffeine after lunch, I can't sleep at night so I find one is just fine. We use Maxwell House granules, the ones said to taste like filter coffee. They don't, but they're smooth and rich without any bitterness, ideal for frappés. The de-caffeinated variety work equally well although I don't suppose a Cypriot would dream of drinking a de-caff frappé!

Apparently Greeks often add cardamom. We've never seen this done and it's not a taste I particularly like. But it could be worth trying. Chocolate powder or syrup can be added for frappucino taste, and a scoop of ice cream can be added to make it more like a milk-shake. There are probably many variations on this, which is one of my favourite drinks for straight after lunch in the summer.

03/08/2005

Healthy breakfast (aka pear stuff)

To serve about 3-4 people for two days, depending on appetite:

(all ingredients are optional, and others can be substituted or added, but this is our version)

3/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1 cup raisins or sultanas
4-5 medium pears, washed
1-2 apples, washed
1 cup fresh orange or lemon juice (or half of each)


Method:
Put the nuts and seeds in a food processor with the metal cutting blade. Wear earplugs if you have sensitive ears, and switch on for about 20 seconds to grind them. Add the rasins and process for another few seconds.

Cut the fruit into quarters (no need to peel) and remove the cores. Add to the food processor with a bit of the citrus juice and process some more. It should make a porridge-like consistency. If it's too thick, add some more juice. Transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate.

Serve by itelf, or with natural yogurt, or other sliced fruit (bananas or strawberries are particularly good). If you feel the need for some grains, soak some oats or rye flake and add those.

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This recipe was inspired by the book 'Raw Energy'. One of us wanted to experiment with being dairy-free for a while, due to blocked ears. One of us wanted to eat all raw foods in the morning. One of us felt it was important to have some protein at breakfast-time. All of us thought it was a good idea to avoid wheat in the morning. Pears were appearing in the supermarkets in vast quantities, and being sold very cheaply.

We chose these particular nuts because we also (roughly) follow the blood group eating theories. Walnuts are supposedly beneficial for all, and almonds are neutral for our types. Strong-tasting nuts (such as peanuts) aren't recommended in this as they tend to destroy all other flavours. But you could use any nuts in place of the ones we chose, and indeed any seeds. We use sunflower seeds for vitamin E and flaxseeds for the Omega-3 oils. Sesame seeds are also good and we sometimes add those.

As for the fruit: you could use all pears (we do sometimes) but find the consistency slightly better with a couple of apples. You could add in other fruit with the processing if you want to: when strawberries are in season, I sometimes add a handful of them. Raspberries or blackberries could also make a nice change.

Oh, and don't expect it to LOOK appetising. The recipe above comes out sort of greeny-grey with flecks in it, and gets slightly brown after a night in the fridge. The version with added strawberries looks pinkish, and worse. But the taste is awesome, and we find it fills us for the morning and gives us more energy than almost any other breakfast we've found.

02/08/2005

Citrus chicken

To serve 3-4 as a main course:

3-4 chicken breasts, or about 600g chicken strips
1 tblsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 red pepper chopped
2 tblsp dark soy sauce
juice of an orange
1 tblsp honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblsp sesame seeds

Method
If using chicken breasts, cut into thin strips. Marinade in the fridge with the olive oil and lemon juice, for a few hours, stirring occasionally.

Stir-fry the chicken for about five minutes in a fairly big saucepan or deep frying pan (or wok), using a little extra olive oil if needed. The chicken should all be cooked through. Add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute.

Mix the orange juice, soy sauce and honey together, then pour over the chicken, and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Continue cooking for about ten minutes, stirring to ensure the chicken is well-coated.

Serve over rice.

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Notes:
While the marinading is nice, it isn't essential. I often forget, and nobody notices the difference.

Cutting fresh chicken breasts into strips isn't all that easy; use a fork to hold it and a sharp serrated knife. I find the simplest method is to start with frozen chicken breasts, thaw for a couple of hours (or a couple of minutes in the microwave) until it's the consistency of ice-cream. Then it slices much more easily.

Juice from fresh citrus fruits is of course best, but it's entirely possible to use orange juice from a packet, and lemon juice from a jar. So long as they're pure juice with no additives.

Don't worry if the garlic pieces turn light blue while cooking! I found it very disturbing the first time that happened, but research taught me that garlic will sometime go blue in the presence of acids such as lemon juice. By the time you've added the soy sauce, the blue colour should mostly have vanished.

If you forget the sesame seeds it doesn't matter, but they do add a pleasant crunch.

Easy home-made yogurt

Yogurt is very easy to make if you have an electric yogurt-maker. I've found several over the years at jumble sales or thrift stores. You can also get a thermos-type, or even use a regular thermos flask to maintain the temperature. But I'd personally recommend an electric one, which comes with five or six little containers to make the yogurt in.

Assuming you have an electric yogurt maker, this is what you need for the simplest possible plain yogurt:

2 heaped tblsp natural live yogurt, or about a third of a container of the previous batch - this is the starter
1 heaped tblsp dried milk powder (optional)
1 large (about 400g) can evaporated milk - either whole or reduced fat
water

Method:
Switch the yogurt maker on!

Put the yogurt starter in a large measuring jug, then stir in the dried milk powder if used. This isn't essential, but makes the yogurt thicker and more nutritious.

Slowly add the evaporated milk, stirring all the time to mix in.

Add water (at room temperature) to make the quantity of liquid up to whatever the capacity is of the containers. You'll need to work this out before you make the first batch. Simply fill one small yogurt container with water, leaving about 1cm space at the top, and then measure the capacity. Multiply by the number of containers. My current yogurt maker has five cups, each of about 160 ml , so I make the milk mixture up to 800ml. My previous one had six cups, each of 150ml, so I made the milk mixture up to 900ml.

Pour the milk mixture carefully into the containers, put on the lids, cover with the larger lid and leave for 4-6 hours. Try not to move or jerk the machine while the yogurt is setting. After about four or five hours, carefully check one of the containers to check whether it's thickened and set. If so, switch the machine off, remove the containers and cool for about half an hour, then transfer to the fridge.

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Made with evaporated milk, and eaten within a few days, this is naturally quite sweet and I don't find it needs anything added. It's good on its own, or mixed with fruit of any kind, or as a topping on a sweet dessert.

You can make an even more inexpensive version using just dried milk mixed with water according to instructions, although it will be much thinner. You can also use UHT milk. However don't use ordinary pasteurised milk without first boiling it and then cooling.

Lemonade (lemon squash)

To make about 3 - 3.5 litres of concentrate:

10-15 medium lemons, unwaxed and thoroughly washed
1kg sugar (2.2lb)
>water for cooking and cooling

Method:
Use a potato peeler or lemon parer to remove just the outer yellow part of the rind of about ten lemons. Place these yellow parings in a large saucepan with about 500ml water, or a bit more. Bring to the boil then gently simmer for about ten minutes. The water should become yellow and smell of lemon as the oils are released.

Add the sugar, and stir gently over the heat until it's all dissolved. Turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Now cut the lemons in half and squeeze out the juice. This is easiest with an electric juicer or suitable food processor attachment. Keep squeezing lemons until you have about a litre (which is roughly an American quart) of juice, including the pips and 'gunk'. With reasonable sized lemons each one yields around 100ml; with smaller ones you'll need to squeeze more. Occasionally when our home-grown lemons have been small, I've needed 20 or more to produce a litre of juice.

Add all the juice (and gunk) to the pan, stir roughly, and leave to cool.

Use a nylon sieve to strain the lemonade over a large jug, and decant into bottles. Add extra water as necessary to squeeze the last of the lemonade out of the bits left in the sieve, and to make the resulting lemonade up to about 3 litres or a bit more, depending on the size of your bottles.

Put straight in the fridge. To use, dilute as necessary with cold water. I usually put about 2cm lemonade in the bottom of a tall glass and fill up with water. Others might have more of the concentrate.

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Notes:

This is a great recipe for those in warm countries with a glut of lemons on their trees. Or if you can find unwaxed lemons at the market for a good price. Alas, it would be terribly expensive if you bought organic shrink-wrapped lemons at one of the big UK supermarkets. You'd be better off just buying cartons of fruit juice.

But it's still a great recipe, even though the amount of sugar needed is rather frighteningly high. You might get away with less if your family doesn't have a particularly sweet tooth, but experimentation showed this to be about the right amount for us. It's much like British-style lemon squash of the high-juice variety, with no artificial additives at all. Or like the lemonade that can be made from frozen concentrate in the USA. It does need to be refrigerated after making, and won't last more than about ten days at most, so make less if you don't drink much of this kind of thing.

If, like us, you find you have far too many lemons to use in the spring, try freezing some. I prepare the yellow outer parings and put them in a freezer bag, then squeeze a litre of juice and put it in a suitable container. This is very useful for the summer when (a) we don't have any lemons growing and they're not widely available in the supermarkets (b) it's far too hot to do much in the kitchen anyway.

01/08/2005

Recipe Index

Chicken or turkey meals
Chicken curry for the crockpot - fairly authentic curry using boneless skinless chicken thighs
Chicken curry - use fresh or leftover chicken to make an easy mild (though not authentic) curry
Chicken in gunge - small pieces of chicken in a 'gunge' made mainly of ketchup and HP sauce
Lemon chicken with carrots - ideal for the crockpot; this recipe is for a large number of people
Marinated chicken - cubes of chicken marinated for a few hours to give a quick and easy meal
Mexican chicken - using filletted chicken or turkey, in a spicy tomato sauce with lots of veggies
Sausagemeat and chicken pie - impressive raised pie with Christmas theme
Slightly spicy chicken - adaptable crockpot recipe with light spicy flavour, in a tomato sauce
Sticky citrus chicken - quick to make, chicken breast strips with fresh citrus juices, excellent with rice
Stove-top barbecue chicken - cooked on the stove top with a barbecue-like sauce
Teriyaki chicken - Westernised version of a Japanese dish in a soya sauce based marinade
Vietnamese coconut chicken - a mildly spicy chicken dish with wonderful coconut aroma

Beef meals
Chinese savoury beef - simple to prepare, serve with rice and stir-fried veg
French stew - very quick meal using stewing steak that bakes gently for four hours
Stifado - easy version of a Cypriot speciality, gently cooked using inexpensive stewing steak

Sausage meals (use any meat or veggie sausages)
Sausage bean-feast - quick and easy to prepare
Sausage tomato bake - sausages, onions and tomatoes in a tasty casserole
Toad in the Hole - traditional British meal with sausages in batter

Mince meals (use any ground meat, or veggie mince)
Chili con carne - a spicy dish, quick and adaptable depending on taste
Enchiladas - simple version of a 'Tex-Mex' dish
Keema - traditional Asian dish, mildly spicy
Lasagne - layers of tomato sauce, cheese and pasta for a traditional Italian meal
Shepherds' pie - a traditional British dish topped with mashed potato

Vegetarian meals
Cheese and lentil bake - simple high protein recipe using red lentils
Chickpea and mushroom risotto - savoury rice with onions, mushrooms and chickpeas
Chili non carne - spicy vegetable dish using pinto beans
Egg and cabbage flan - quick to prepare, no legumes or cheese involved
French bread pizza - very quick and easy to prepare, popular with children
Nut roast - ideal to serve as veggie alternative to meat roast
Pinto bean curry - delicious vegan curry, made in the slow cooker (crockpot)
Quiche - simple cheese and onion quiche
Spanokopitta - traditional Greek-style pie with spinach and feta cheese
Sweet and sour cheese - tasty and unusual recipe for a quick meal
Vegetable and nut cobbler - cauliflower and other veg with a walnut scone topping

Desserts and cakes
Apple bundt cake - traditional circular cake, moist with apples
Apple cake - bar cake that uses apples which don't even need to be peeled
Apricot (or loquat) crunch - soft fruit with flapjack-like topping
Banoffi Pie - biscuit crumb base, condensed milk 'toffee' filling, banana topping
Christmas pudding - steamed dessert, served with cream, custard or brandy butter
Chocolate biscuit cake - a quick uncooked dessert using chocolate and broken biscuits
Chocolate cake in a mug - very quick chocolate dessert made in the microwave
Chocolate chip applesauce cake - Simple to prepare; apple sauce replaces most of the fat
Chocolate chip oat cookies - a reasonably healthy variation of a classic biscuit recipe
Chocolate crumb cake - a frugal cake with canned fruit underneath
Gingerbread - traditional gooey cake or dessert that gets better with keeping
Lemon cream crunch - A rich lemon filling on a digestive biscuit base. Similar to 'key lime pie'
Lemon meringue pie - A traditional favourite, not quick to make but worth the effort
Mincemeat cake - ideal for using up leftover mincemeat after Christmas

Pineapple chocolate fudge pie - A smooth chocolate pie in a crumb base
Rice pudding - old traditional British dessert made in the oven or microwave
Soft-scoop vanilla ice cream
- uses chilled evaporated milk; requires an electric mixer
Toffee ice cream - not quick to make, but tastes wonderful, using dulce de leche and whipped cream

Bread
Basic part wholewheat bread - my easiest breadmaker recipe

Beer bread - quick and easy, with no kneading - just flour, sugar and beer make this bread
Tomato and rosemary loaf - a pleasant savoury flavour - ideal for a breadmaker
Wheat tortillas - simple and inexpensive, if a little time-consuming

Wholewhat and oat loaf - a basic light loaf, with part wholemeal flour. Works well in a breadmaker

Soups
Courgette and tomato soup - looks and tastes rather like canned tomato soup, but fresher and healthier
Curried carrot and ginger soup - delicious with warm bread on a cold day

Jams and Chutneys
Apple and pear spread - not a preserve, but an unsweetened fruit spread

Apricot jam - a basic recipe for using apricots in season, which keeps well
Lemon curd - microwave recipe for this sweet preserve, known in some countries as lemon butter
Mango and apple chutney- not too difficult if you can find fresh mangoes at a reasonable price
Strawberry Jam - very simple, great when strawberries are in season

Tomato and apple chutney - excellent with bread and cheese, simple to prepare

Drinks

Almond milk - simple nut milk, alternative to dairy milk
Coconut milk - non-dairy alternative, made from fresh coconut
Quick coconut milk - made from desiccated coconut, ideal non-dairy milk
Frappé - chilled coffee drink popular in Cyprus in the summer
Fruit smoothies - pure fruit, with juice and ice - perfect in the summer
Lemonade - refreshing drink to make when you have copious lemons growing, or when they're inexpensive in the supermarket


Miscellaneous
Aquafaba - the latest vegan egg-substitute, made with chickpea cooking water
Dairy-free chocolate fudge - using dairy-free ingredients, a simple and tasty sweet
Hummus - traditional Asian dip/spread made with chickpeas
Granola - based on oats, this baked breakfast cereal is simple and adaptable
Mincemeat - sweet mixture using mainly dried fruit, for traditional mince pies
Pear-based healthy breakfast - pears, nuts and seeds combined

Royal icing - step-by-step guide to icing a celebration fruit cake
Tomato ketchup - uses fresh tomatoes to make ketchup in just a couple of hours
Tsatsiki - a simple yogurt/cucumber dip popular in the Middle East
Yogurt - based on evaporated milk, easiest with an electrical yogurt maker