Author: Emma Hawkins

Meatball Pasta Bake

Meatball Pasta Bake

The start of Uni is coming up and so it’s time to dig out those quick, comforting student-friendly recipes for term time! This one’s a really useful dish to have under your belt as it’s hearty, tasty and will also give you some really useful skills that you can use to make loads of other things. My mum always says that if you know how to cook a bit of meat, make a tomato sauce and make a white sauce you’re pretty much set. From the skills you learn from this you can also make a chilli con carne, bolognese, cauliflower cheese, fish pie and a number of other dishes!

This is also a really easy dish to play around with to suit whatever you need.  Want to make it vegetarian – use a meat substitute or vegetables (I like aubergine and sweet potato!). Want to feed a crowd? Just double your quantities! Don’t have the cash for/can’t find meatballs? Use some chopped up sausages instead! Don’t have the time to make this in one go? Make the tomato and white sauce in bulk and then all you need to do is re-heat them and add the meat and pasta! I’ve included some herbs and spices in this tomato sauce as it really does make it so much better than boring ones you get out of jars, however, if you’re a student and/or on a budget I wouldn’t expect you to have these so they’re not essential. That said I would really recommend taking some paprika to uni with you if you can – it might seem pretentious but it’ll add instant flavour and kick to any dish without making it blow-your-head-off spicy!

This year I’m living out of college so I’ll have my first taste of true student cooking which is gonna be interesting… That said, I did use our little kitchen in halls quite a bit last year and found out some things that are kinda useful to know:

3  Nuggets of knowledge to take with you to Uni…

  1.  Pasta is life! It’s so versatile, goes with everything, and is really quick/easy to cook. Make sure you take some pasta and maybe some pasta sauces with you when you go to uni. (If you don’t like pasta a staple carb like rice or noodles will also work!)
  2. In the hectic life of uni the fruit you buy can often end up being neglected and before you know it the beautiful morsels you bought are 4 weeks old, squishy and gross. You may be tempted to throw these in the bin (and if they’re mouldy then, yeah, do that!) but if they’re looking generally ok, they’re just too far gone to eat raw, use them in your cooking! I found topping some chopped up eating apples with a simple crumble topping and baking them for 20-30 minutes gave a really quick apple crumble. You can use pretty much any fruit you want to make a good crumble, but stone fruits (like plums, peaches and nectarines) work super well! You can also put old bananas in banana bread and citrus fruits in smoothies!
  3. ALWAYS TIDY UP AFTER YOURSELF! Ok, so maybe I’ve not had the best experience this year with dealing with other people’s mess in the kitchen – but trust me, people know who are the ones who leave their stuff in the kitchen and though they’ll never tell you it, they won’t like you for it. Just make sure you leave the kitchen as you found it (or better) – wash up your dishes, put them away, put food back in the fridge and wipe down the work tops. It’s common niceties for using a shared space and it’ll stop people forming judgements about you before they know you!

I also had no idea what kind of equipment I’d be needing in the kitchen last year, and no matter what you do take you always end up forgetting something. So if you’re wondering what to pack for your student kitchen I’d say make sure to pack the following…

  • A good non-stick sauce pan.
  • A large mixing bowl  – This’ll be useful for everything, from making a 3 tiered birthday cake to eating cereal when you can’t find your crockery!
  • A mug – If you don’t drink coffee or tea before you go to uni you will by the time you come home! (Also really good for mug cakes and for measuring!)
  • A spare fork – great as a whisk, pastry crimper, tub opener, cake prodder, pasta tester and pretty much anything you can think of. You will also always get to a point where the only piece of cutlery you can find is a broken table knife and a ladle, so spare forks are very valuable!
  • A spatula – As a student you don’t want to be wasting any food you’ve spent money and time on making just because you can’t scrape it out of the pan.
  • Tupperware boxes – If you’re as bad as portioning as I am you’ll often end up with a whole other portion of food you want to put in the fridge and keep for another day!
  • Glass dish with lid – Great for baking and cooking things in (like this pasta bake!) and for then storing leftovers in the fridge.
  • A bottle opener – everyone always needs one, no one ever has one!
  • A chef’s knife and a smaller prep knife.
  • A chopping board – self explanatory, but also great for carrying hot dishes back to your room to eat.
  • A tea towel – can double up as an oven glove and ensures you have no excuses to leave your pans out!

Of course there are lots of other useful bits of kit like a wooden spoon, extra pans, oven gloves, a tin opener, a sieve, and of course crockery, but these are the the main things I found I reached for when I was in the kitchen!

Recipe

Serves 2 – 4 (really depends on how hungry you are!)

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ mugs of Pasta
  • 1 tsp Sunflower oil
  • 12 Meatballs (or 4 sausages)
  • Fresh basil to serve (optional)

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 Small white onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp Smoked papirika
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 400g Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Beef (or vegetable) stock cube
  • 1 Bay leaf (optional)

For the white sauce

  • 50g Butter
  • 1 tbsp Plain flour
  • 450ml Milk
  • 75g Cheddar cheese, plus extra for the topping

Method

  1. Begin by making the tomato sauce. Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic. Put the oil into a large saucepan and fry the chopped onion until starting to caramelise and turn golden. Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne (if using). Stir and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and beef stock cube to the pan, stir and bring it up to a boil. Fill the empty tomato tin/carton with water and pour this into the pan (it’ll rinse the remaining tomatoes out into the pan and will give you the liquid you need!). Add the bay leaf, stir the mixture again and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Leave for 30-40 minutes until reduced and not too watery. Season to taste with salt and pepper and leave to cool until needed
  3. Meanwhile put a pan of water on to boil. Then cook the pasta to the packet’s instructions. When aldente take the pan off the heat and leave in the water until needed.
  4. Next prepare the meatballs. Put the oil into a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the meatballs and fry them for 1-2 minutes until browned on one side. Then turn them over and repeat the frying and turning until they’re brown all over. (If using sausages instead, pierce the skins 2-3 times with a sharp knife and pan-fry them in a similar way, before chopping them into chunks). Don’t worry if the meat isn’t cooked all the way through as it’ll continue to cook in the oven, you just want them browned all over on the surface. Leave to one side until needed.
  5. Meanwhile make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and then add the flour. Mix the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Beat it in the pan for around 1 minute to cook out the flour.
  6. Slowly add the milk to the pan, (around 3-4 tbsp at a time at first and then after 4-5 of these start to slowly pour it in), whisking constantly to slowly make a sauce. This is the most important step as if you add the milk all at once the mixture will become lumpy and won’t thicken. Once all the milk is added keep on whisking for 5-10 minutes until the mixture thickens and leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted out.
  7. Grate the cheddar into the sauce and whisk again until it’s melted and combined. Then taste the mixture and season with pepper and salt, if needed.
  8. When all the elements are ready start assembling. Drain the pasta and mix it into the tomato sauce. Then pour it out into a glass/oven-proof dish. Top with the meatballs and then spoon the white sauce in between the meatballs. Top with some extra grated cheese and then bake the dish in the oven for around 10-15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
  9. Serve with a side salad and basil (if you want!). This will keep in a covered contained in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Plum and Apple Crumble Flat Crust

Plum and Apple Crumble Flat Crust

This summer’s been pretty crazy for me. Not because I’ve been all around the world or have gone on a fascinating internship or the like, but because it’s been the first summer in well over 4 years that I’ve just stopped and let myself think. I tend to plow on through life head first, doing as much as I can and I often wear myself out in the process, so this summer I’ve let myself rest, re-coup and try to sort out my head a bit.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health guilt recently and the downward spiralling effect this can have on an already fragile mind. By mental health guilt I mean feeling as though you have no right to be depressed or feeling low because you think others have it worse than you. I think this something that a lot of people with depression experience at some point and I’ve been feeling it a lot myself recently. After all, I’m a white, middle class woman from a stable family in a relatively stable part of the world. I’ve had all the education I could wish for, all the opportunities I could imagine and yet I still find myself coming back to this really dark place.

Something I think that’s important to remember when you feel this way is that all pain is relative and personal. Everyone has different life experiences and struggles, and you can never know the full story behind what someone else is experiencing. Therefore, when it comes to mental health, it’s ultimately impossible to say that one person deserves help more than someone else, or that someone’s pain is worse than another’s. Surely if you feel in pain and it’s affecting you, you deserve the help and support you need, regardless of whether someone else has it worse or not. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the UK’s mental health system from my experience. At the moment there is massive under funding in the NHS and so as a result the only ones getting real treatment (and even then after a long waiting time) are those who are suffering at the most extreme level. This of course makes sense and it is important that we treat the most serious cases first, but it does make those with more minor, yet still serious conditions, feel as though their problems aren’t serious enough to warrant treatment – which when you’re feeling like you have no right to feel depressed in the first place isn’t helpful.

We can’t change this overnight, but we can start to make those who can make the changes more aware of the mental health crisis in the UK by talking about it more openly. There are great charities and campaign groups such as Young Minds and Heads Together who are doing amazing work to get better mental health provision in the UK, and supporting them in their work is probably the best shot we have to influence major change at ground level. For now though I’ll just say it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t matter if someone has it worse than you or if you don’t feel like you have the right to feel depressed.  Depression isn’t a choice, and although it can be formed out of circumstance it is inherently biological and beyond a person’s control. Therefore if you do feel down or low, in need of treatment or even just in need of a talk, reach out for it. Don’t feel like it needs to get worse before you’re allowed to get better, or that you’re being over-dramatic and should just calm down. It’s thoughts like that which lead people to end up in really bad places that are even harder to get out of.

For me it’s by no means been an easy summer, and I doubt it’ll be an easy autumn but I am looking forward to a new academic year and a change of scene. By taking it slow over the past couple of months I’ve found a rhythm for living which I hope I can translate into my working term at Uni and fingers crossed I can keep myself relatively stable. Most importantly for me I have re-kindled my love of cooking. Now, of course this never really went away but I’ve had a tricky relationship with food in that I cook to de-stress, but recently the mere idea of cooking has stressed me out.  Sometimes I don’t have the energy to cook, sometimes I don’t want to eat anything, and sometimes I just don’t have the patience. However I’ve started to find that these times are all totally fine and normal, and the important thing is that I always come back to the kitchen sooner or later and have fun when I’m there!

This new, relaxed approach to my cooking is how I eventually came up with this plum and apple crumble ‘flat-crust’. I wanted to make a tart but really couldn’t face the paph of lining a tart tin or blind baking etc, so I found that this was a great compromise. As it’s not made in a tin you don’t have to worry too hard about what awful shape your pastry is being rolled into which is a really nice thing. As long as it’s vaguely round and flat, you’re good. Quick, delicious, full of warming autumn flavours and all that good home comfort stuff we like to see around this time of year!

Recipe

Serves 12

Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 175g Plain flour
  • 2 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 115g Butter
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp Water

For the filling

  • 2 Bramley apples (or medium sized cooking apples)
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • ¼ tsp Ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 3 Plums
  • 1 Egg

For the Crumble topping

  • 75g Butter
  • 2 tbsp Plain flour
  • 2 tbsp Porridge oats
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Begin by making the pastry. Put the flour and sugar into a bowl and mix together with a round bladed knife (a regular table knife). Add the butter and use the knife to cut it into chunks in the flour.
  2. When you can’t cut the butter up any more, go in with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. (Shaking the bowl from side to side every now and then will help bring the lumps to the top).
  3. In a small bowl mix together the egg yolk and water and then mix this into the breadcrumb mixture. Mix with a table knife until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in cling film and then leave it to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or until needed.
  4. Now move onto the filling. Peel, core and then roughly dice the apples and put them into a large pan. Add the sugar, ginger and cinnamon and bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat. Leave to simmer for 25-30 minutes until broken down and golden, stirring the mixture every now and then to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pan. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool until needed.
  5. Meanwhile halve and de-stone the plums. Then slice the plums into smallish pieces (I find I get around 5 slices from each half).
  6. Now make the crumble topping. Put the butter and flour into a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour until you have a breadcrumb texture again, like you did with the pastry. Add the sugar and oats and then mix together with a spoon to make a crumbly mixture.
  7. When ready to start assembling pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  8. Take your pastry out of the fridge and place it on a sheet on clingfilm on a work top. Place another sheet of clingfilm over the top and gently roll the pastry into a rough circle (don’t worry if you end up with more of a square, it won’t matter in the end!). Take a plate, cake tin or generally round object around 11” in diameter and use it as a guide as to how far to roll the pastry. You’ll want it around 0.5 – 1 inch wider all around, than this template.
  9. Peel the top sheet of clingfilm off the pastry and flip it over onto your lined baking tray. Then peel off the other sheet of clingfilm. Lay your template on top of the pastry and gently score the circular shape into the dough with a knife, being careful not to cut all the way through!
  10. Spoon the stewed apple inside the circle you’ve just marked, leaving a ½ inch gap around the edge. Next take your plum slices and lay them around the edge, making their top edges line up with the circle you’ve made. You should now have a ring of plum slices bordering a pile of apples.
  11. If you were worried about the edge of your pastry now’s the time we’re going to sort that out. If you have any bits that are really sticking out from the plum edge, and some other bits that are really close to it you can carefully peel off a chunky bit and squish it onto somewhere lacking in pastry. Then gently roll up the pastry all around the edge until you reach the plum boarder, to make a crust.
  12. Take the crumble topping and sprinkle it over the exposed apple filling. Then crack the egg for the topping into a bowl and whisk it up with a fork until the yolk and white are mixed. Brush a little egg around the edge of the pastry and then sprinkle over a little more brown sugar to give a crunchy crust.
  13. Bake the tart in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the plums are shrivelled, and the crumble top and pastry are golden brown. Serve warm with fresh plums and custard!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or feelings on anything in this post below!

Emma x

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How to Make Creme Patisserie (aka custard)

How to Make Creme Patisserie (aka custard)

A little while ago I did my first ‘how to’ which I really enjoyed so I thought I’d do another one. In my normal recipes I tend not to put copious amounts of detail in the method as it’s not necessary and it makes it look too long to work through when scanning, so I’m hoping these longer explanations will be helpful for the more technical dishes which might need a bit more explanation.

As with pastry in my first how-to, creme patisserie (aka custard) is something I used to really struggle with. No matter what I did it always seemed to curdle and split and just die on me which was really frustrating. But after lots of research into how to make it and experimenting with combinations of recipes I found this magic formula, and it’s worked for me ever since!

‘Course you can use powdered or even packet/tinned custard, but trust me, making your own is so much better. Not only do you move away from the shockingly yellow florescence of powdered custard but you get much richer flavour, which can be really important for some dishes. For a list of things you can do with creme patisserie scroll to the bottom of this post where there’s a list of alternatives and links to recipes you can use this in. Trust me once you can nail a good creme patisserie you’ll never go back to the packet stuff!

Recipe

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250ml Whole milk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla bean paste
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 10g Plain flour
  • 10g Cornflour

Method

1. Put the milk and vanilla into a saucepan, stir once and bring to the boil.

2. Separate the eggs by rocking the yolk between the two halves of the shell and letting the egg white drip into a bowl below. Put the egg yolks into a separate bowl.

3. Add the sugar and two flours to the egg yolks and whisk together until fully combined.

4. Once the milk is heated, remove the pan from the heat and mix around 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture.

5. Whisk the mixture quickly and then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the milk.

6. Put the pan back over a medium-low heat and whisk until the mixture thickens.

7. Pour the creme patisserie into a jug and, if not using straight away, cover with cling-film to prevent a skin from forming.

“Oh no it’s…”

Too runny…

  • Pour the mixture back into a pan and gently heat up again. Whisk constantly and keep it on the heat until it starts to thicken.

Gone lumpy…

  • This is probably because either the flours weren’t whisked into the egg yolks enough in step 3, or because the mixture wasn’t whisked enough when it was being heated through. To solve this  you can try giving it a good hard whisk for 1-2 minutes to break up the lumps. If this doesn’t sort out the problem put the creme patisserie through a sieve and you should have a smooth, silky custard!

Split…

  • This happens when the mixture gets too hot and boils, and can also happen when you add certain ingredients like lemon juice or alcohol to the mixture.  When it’s fully curdled it’s pretty hard to save and you will probably have to start again. Before you do though try pouring it into a bowl or different pan and blitz with a hand blender – you can sometimes save it this way!

Taking ages to thicken…

  • Sometimes creme patisserie thickens in a minute, sometimes 20, the trick is to be patient. Even if you have to stand there for 30 minutes whisking on a gentle heat keep going and you will get there. If you’re low on time (or just plain bored) you can try increasing the heat a little, just be careful the mixture doesn’t boil or it can split. In the past I’ve also sifted in a little extra cornflour (around 1/2 tsp) to make the mixture thicken quicker. If you do this, however, keep a really close eye on the mixture as it could go super thick and end up rubbery.
  • It’s also worth noting that the creme patisserie will continue to thicken as it cools down. Therefore don’t bring it to the consistency you’d expect your custard to be, instead bring it to the point where it’s thickened but slightly loose. It’ll then thicken to the perfect consistency within a few minutes of being off the heat.

Alternatives

Why not try…

  • Adding 1 tbsp cocoa powder to the egg yolks when you add the flour to get chocolate custard
  • Adding the zest of 1 lemon or orange to the milk at the start to get a citrus creme patisserie
  • Using almond, coconut or soya milk to make this dairy-free and to add some delicious flavour!

Recipes Using Creme Patisserie

Here’s some of my favourite recipes using creme patisserie, but the uses are definitely not limited to these! Click on the picture to go through to the recipes…

  

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Warm Feta Cheesecake with a 100% cocoa base and Watermelon Ice cream

Warm Feta Cheesecake with a 100% cocoa base and Watermelon Ice cream

I’ve just got back from an incredible weekend at Greenbelt Festival and will no doubt be posting lots of thoughts, ideas and recipes inspired from all that. For today though I’ve got this fun lil’ recipe for you!

It’s been a while since I’ve tried anything wacky and elegant in the kitchen so I thought it was about time I got experimental again. I always have around 3-4 ideas for dishes in my head at a time, but it’s the effort needed to work out the recipe and make the dish that slows me down in actually getting them tried and tested. As for this dessert, the flavour ideas and components have been in my mind for a long time, so it’s really satisfying to finally see it all on a plate and tasting delicious!

I first came across the idea of feta cheesecake in a little Mediterranean restaurant in a remote village in north Devon (as you do). It easily caught my attention on the menu as it’s something I’d never even heard of before, let alone eaten, and I just had to know if it worked. Needless to say it was a revelation! The salty tang of the feta works really well in a simple cheesecake, and even more so in a dessert like the one I tried in Lynton and this one I developed at home.

(This is the feta dessert I tried at the Vanilla Pod in Lynton – if you’re ever nearby I’d really recommend eating there!)

The ideas for the other flavour components in this came from my current obsession with super bitter dark chocolate and that delicious watermelon ice cream I first tasted in Rome (recipe went up last week!). What resulted from these ideas and flavour inspirations that I’ve been wanting to couple up for ages is a rich, warm feta cheesecake with a bitter cocoa base, served with a refreshing watermelon gelato! Sounds fancy, looks fancy, tastes amazing, and is not too complicated to put together – so it’s pretty much a win all round!

Recipe

Serves 3

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

For the base

  • 50g Dark chocolate biscuits (I used oreos with the creamy centre scraped out)
  • 55g Unsalted butter
  • 50g 100% cocoa chocolate

For the filling

  • 50g Feta Cheese
  • 30g Heavy cream
  • 60g Cream cheese
  • 1 Small egg
  • ¼ tsp Lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp Vanilla bean paste
  • ½ tbsp Plain flour
  • 55g Caster sugar

To serve

  • 50g Dark chocolate
  • 50 ml Double cream
  • Watermelon ice cream (see last week’s recipe – a fruit sorbet could also work here, but I really recommend the watermelon!)
  • Fresh mint to garnish (optional)

Note: This recipe uses metal dessert rings which gives the cheesecakes their beautiful cylindrical shape. However, if you don’t have these to hand you could use a greased muffin tin, metal ramekins or even make one big one in a lined cake tin!

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Begin by making the base. But the biscuits into a bowl and crush with the base of a rolling pin to make a fine crumb. Grate the chocolate into the biscuits and stir to combine.
  3. Meanwhile melt the butter in a small pan and then pour this over the crushed biscuits. Stir to make a mixture with the texture of damp sand.
  4. Take 3 metal dessert rings (about 7.5cm in diameter and 6cm tall) and place them on your lined baking tray. Press the biscuit mixture into the base of your moulds with the back of a spoon (or your fingers) and then bake in the oven for around 10 minutes until starting to crisp.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. Put the feta and cream into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Then add the cream cheese and mix again. Next add the egg, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and mix together, before adding the flour and sugar and stirring again to make a smooth mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture over the cooked bases and shake the trays a little from side to side to knock out any air bubbles. Bake the cheesecakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they start to brown a little on top. Then leave them in their moulds whilst you prepare the topping.
  7. Finely chop the chocolate for the topping and place into a heatproof bowl. Then heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just reaches the boil. Quickly pour the warm cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
  8. To plate up begin by putting the cheesecakes onto separate plates. Take a sharp prep knife and run it under some warm water to warm it up. Then dry it and run it around the edge of the cheesecakes to loosen them from their moulds. Carefully lift the moulds up and off of the cheesecakes and set to one side. Drizzle the cheesecakes with a little of the chocolate ganache and then finish a scoop of watermelon ice cream and a garnish of fresh mint!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Watermelon Ice cream

Watermelon Ice cream

The sky might be getting greyer, the days shorter and the wind windier, but it’s never too late in the season for some ice cream! A little while ago my friends and I went on a trip to Rome and needless to say the art, culture and architecture it had to offer were incredible, but the food was out of this world! From the little cafes on street corners where we’d grab breakfast in the morning, to the on-street restaurants and bistros where we’d have our long meals in the evening, it was a real treat for the taste buds! One downside of going mid July was the heat. I’m 100% a jumpers and duvet kinda girl so being thrown into a world of shorts and siestas was an interesting experience, but it did give the chance for lots of guilt-free geltao!

Without a doubt I’m a mint choc-chip person when in the UK. I’ve heard all the arguments against, but no, to me it does not taste like toothpaste! Even so, when I was in Rome I didn’t try any of the stuff because there were so many other flavours I’d never tried before, and being me I wanted to try them all! One of these was the incredible watermelon ice cream. I was craving watermelon the whole time I was out there as I needed something juicy and fruity, however all the fresh watermelon was massively overpriced, so when I saw it as a gelato flavour I knew I had to try it! The other thing that drew me to it was the sheer idea of a watermelon flavoured ice cream. The inner chef inside me was saying how can you make watermelon into a thick, creamy gelato?! Watermelon is full of water, ice cream is full of cream. But if anyone knew how to do it it’d be the Italians, and it was so so good – (I have no idea why this isn’t more popular in the UK – it’s AMAZING!).

Naturally I began to get very excited (as I always do when I come across a new foodie-find) and I knew that when I got home I’d have to make my own. Unfortunately this was so good and it was so warm when I made it that my family and I tucked into it before I remembered to snap a photo (hence the half devoured tub in the header image) – but if anything that just shows how mouth wateringly-good it was! Oh… and did I mention it’s vegan? I’ve used a coconut and almond milk base for this so even though it’s super creamy and rich it’s 100% plant based and vegan friendly. If you want to make it really special try adding some 100% cocoa chocolate to the mixture before putting it into the ice cream machine. It’ll give some dark flecks like watermelon seeds to the pink base as well as some delicious cocoa flavour!

Recipe

Makes 1 tub

Time: 1 hour, plus freezing time

Ingredients

  • 160g Caster sugar
  • 130ml Almond milk
  • 160g Coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Cornflour
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 615ml Watermelon juice or 1 Watermelon

Method

  1. Place the sugar, almond milk, coconut milk, and cornflour into a medium sized saucepan and place over a medium heat.
  2. Bring the pan to the boil and then leave to boil, stirring occasionally until thickened. Stir in the vanilla and then leave to cool to room temperature. Then leave in the fridge until completely cool.
  3. Meanwhile slice the watermelon into 4 and scoop out the flesh. I find the easiest way to do this is to make vertical slices along the watermelon, almost all the way to the peel, and then run the blade parallel to the peel to make lots of little pieces. Chill the watermelon pieces for 30 minutes and then puree them with a hand blender. Sieve the pulp into another bowl and then take out 615ml of the juice. This is what you’ll use, you can freeze the rest to use at a later date or to eat as a watermelon ice!
  4. Mix the watermelon puree with the cooled milk mixture and then pour it into an ice cream maker. Churn until thick and semi-frozen. Pour the mixture into a freezeable container and leave in the freezer until completely frozen. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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