Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Traveling Desserts: Vanilla Pudding and Fifteens

What do you do when you're living at an AirBnB and having super foodies over for dinner? I was faced with this predicament when I was in Scotland for the summer (more on that later!), trying to make new friends by impressing them with my foodie skillz. :) It turns out, without an oven, or many of the conventional tools and ingredients of the trade, one can still turn out a simple but fun dinner party!

The main star of dinner was chicken soup, which sounds like a funny main! But, I had promised a good expat friend of mine (of easiest chocolate chip cookies fame) who pined for American-style chicken soup that I would make him some when I visited, so soup it was. The rest of the menu was cobbled together by whatever looked good in the local markets:

Chicken noodle soup
chicken (from a local butchery), celery, carrots, fresh tagliatelle

Pan-roasted butternut squash salad
ras el hanout-spiced pan-roasted butternut squash and red onion, sliced D'anjou pear, bee pollen, rocket, honey dijon red wine vinaigrette

Bread & cheese bruschetta
pan-roasted cherry tomato and garlic, mature Scottish white cheddar, sourdough toast

For dessert, my friend was going to make brownies to bring over, so to complement the chocolatey squidgy-ness of the brownies, I put together vanilla pudding pots (for which you really just need a whisk, pot, and jars!), with kiwi coulis and fruit. These were also a joy to make in a country in which vanilla paste is actually a standard and easy ingredient to come by! Yum. :)

Finally, I also made some fifteens, which are an Irish cookie! that another one of my Scottish-based expat friends made for me during my visit. Fifteens are a no-bake cookie that is made out of crushing other cookies (ahem, "biscuits") and mixing them with more ingredients. It's like cookie cannibalism! Traditional fifteens have candied cherries and coconut, but my friend, Jefferson, made them with candied citrus peel and almond, which I thought helps cut the ultra-sweetness of the cookie well. So here is Jefferson's version of fifteens!

Hope everyone is having a super fun summer. If you find yourself traveling but in need of a few super simple but totally yummy dessert recipes, here you go!

Happy ☀️!

read on for recipes...

Vanilla Pudding with Kiwi Coulis
recipe adapted from Chowhoud
makes four vanilla pots (in four 228 ml/1 cup jars)

for pudding:
67 g sugar
2 Tbspn cornstarch
300 ml whole milk
232 ml double cream (aka: heavy cream)
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 Tbspn slightly salted European-style butter, chopped
1 1/2 tspn vanilla paste

for kiwi coulis:
1 kiwi
2 tspn tangerine juice (optional)
sugar, to taste

for topping:
fruit to serve

1. Prepare a fine mesh strainer over a medium-sized bowl, preferably one with a pour spout.
2. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, cream, and egg yolks. Whisk until the egg yolks are incorporated.
3. In a medium saucepan, whisk to combine the sugar and corn starch. Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk mixture to the pan. Stir to combine thoroughly.
4. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, about 5-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to stir constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to make sure everything is cooking evenly (the original recipe recommends a rubber spatula for this job, but all I had was a whisk, and it worked fine). Cook for about 3-5 minutes more until a whisk leaves visible traces that disappear rather slow from the surface.
5. Remove from heat, and strain through the prepared strainer. Add the butter and vanilla paste. Stir to combine thoroughly. Divide the pudding into the jars, cover, and chill for at least 2 hours.

6. For the kiwi coulis, finely chop the kiwi. Stir in the tangerine juice, if using. Then stir in sugar to taste, starting with about 1 tspn and working your way from there.
7. Cover the coulis, and let it macerate in the fridge for at least an hour.

8. Serve by pouring a thin layer of coulis on the pudding. Top with fruit, if desired.

Jefferson's Fifteens
recipe adapted from BBC Goodfood, by way of my friend, Jefferson
makes about 15 cookies

15 digestive biscuits
60 mini marshmallows, each cut in half
15 teaspoons finely chopped candied citrus peel
175 ml condensed milk, plus a little extra
200 g ground almonds

1. Crush/pulverize the biscuits until they are the texture of flour (I was able to easily do this with just my hands, given the brand of digestives that were at the store).
2. Mix the crushed biscuits, cut marshmallows, and chopped citrus peel in a large bowl. Add the condensed milk and mix until the batter sticks together when pressed between your fingers. If it's dry (i.e., there's still biscuit powder that won't incorporate), add a splash more condensed milk at a time.
3. Prepare a large piece of parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle about 75% of the ground almonds into a large rectangular layer on the parchment/foil. Shape the batter into a long log, about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Sprinkle more almond on top, and then wrap the paper or foil tightly around the log (really pack it in, if you can!), twisting the ends of the paper/foil to form a seal.
4. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours, and the batter should become firm. Cut into pieces and serve.

A note: Jefferson used chocolate chip digestives in his version; I used regular digestives here. Both work!


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