Monday, February 18, 2013

Zuppa Inglese Gelato

When I heard of the License to Chill Sweet Adventures Blog Hop hosted by the Kitchen Crusader, I was really excited because one of my favourite kitchen appliances is our ice cream maker. I was thinking of all the different flavours of ice cream that I am still to make....hmmm.... rum and raisin.... rocky road......ZUPPA INGLESE!

When I was in Italy as a kid over 20 years ago, I discovered this amazing gelato - half creamy, custardy ice cream and half trifle. Then, when we were in Florence on our honeymoon and on the day of my birthday I discovered it again! I started doing a bit of research on what exactly is in a Zuppa Inglese - the original trifle, rather than the gelato variety, and it turns out that it is savoiardi biscuits soaked in an Italian liqueur called Alchermes, a spirit infused with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla flavours. Not having come across this before in Sydney (although I'd love to find it) I decided to replicate the flavours in my Zuppa Inglese Gelato and soak the biscuits in Pipeclay Tawny Port from Pieter van Gent winery in Mudgee which has many similar flavours through it - I'm sure you could substitute with any Australian Tawny to get the same effect as my dessert.

Zuppa Inglese Gelato

500ml Milk
125ml Cream
Cinammon stick
1 vanilla pod (I used 1 teaspoon of Queen Vanilla Bean Paste instead of the real thing)
8 cloves
5 egg yolks
110g caster sugar
8 Savoiardi Biscuits
125 ml Pipeclay Tawny Port
Cocoa powder to sprinkle

Put milk, cream, cinammon stick, vanilla pod (or paste), cloves into a saucepan over a low heat;
Separate the eggs, and beat the yolks with the sugar until the mixture is thick, creamy and looks like a ribbon when you lift the whisk out of the bowl;
When the milk mixture is a at almost boiling (you can see little bubbles starting to appear around the edge of the saucepan), pour quickly into the egg mixture. Be careful to keep the cinnamon stick in the saucepan when you pour it;
Whisk it all together for a few seconds, till combined, and then pour it back into the saucepan;
Stir constantly with a wooden spoon over a low heat until the custard thickens. You'll know it's ready when the custard coats the back of the wooden spoon, and holds the position when you run your finger through it;
Sieve the custard into a jug or bowl, and discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves;
Cool the custard in the fridge;
When the custard is cold, churn in the ice cream maker according to the instructions;
Once churned, it's time to layer the gelato and soaked savioardi biscuits;
Soak the savioardis in the Tawny Port till they are completely covered by the port, but not totally soaked through;
Layer one scoop of gelato with half a savioardi; repeat this twice but in the 3rd layer use a whole savioardi and finish by a layer of the gelato;
Put back in the freezer until ready to serve;
Serve sprinkled with some cocoa powder.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gie her a Haggis

I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm originally from Scotland. Us Scots are a proud bunch and love to party, so what better occasion than a Burns Supper, the celebration of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, to get back to my Scottish heritage with some festivities and food.

The real purpose of Burns Night for Scots overseas is the opportunity to eat haggis, the infamous dish traditionally encased in the stomach of a sheep. In the olden days, haggis was a poor mans' dish. The innards, typically lungs, of the animals were bulked out by oatmeal and heavy spiced to disguise the grim flavours of the off cuts and innards of the animals. Nowadays, especially in Scotland, where there were limitations on using some parts of the animal due to mad cow disease, we are much more choosy of what we stuff into our haggis and it wouldn't be any different to what you would find in a sausage. The casing too, is now similar to a sausage casing rather than being the stomach of the sheep. The spices and shape though still remain, to take us back to our roots.

Talking of roots, haggis is traditionally served with specific root vegetables, neeps and tatties - translated that is mashed turnips (or swede actually) and mashed potatoes. Typically, as whisky lovers, it's also served with a whisky sauce or just a splash of whisky poured over the meat to add some moisture and flavour.

One of the most important traditions of a Burns Supper is having the haggis piped into the room by a kilted bagpiper and the address to the haggis, originally written by Robert Burns, being recited. At our Burns Supper we were true to tradition. The sounds of the bagpipes resonating around Glebe would have been heard all up and down Glebe Point Road, probably confusing the locals dining in other restaurants! We were too busy enjoying the dramatic spearing of the haggis during the reciting of the Ode to a Haggis, and the shots of whisky to toast it (any excuse!).

"Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware; 
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis"
(extract from Robert Burns, Ode to a Haggis)

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