Friday, October 26, 2012

Pita Pizzas || A Cabin in the Country

We were playing Scrabble in front of a roaring fire when she walked out of her bedroom, that guilty smile on her face. This was way past her bedtime. Leaning against the couch, she looked at us innocently -
"Do you always play games when I go to bed?"
 {not always, darling ... } But then we let her stay up with us anyway. Because we were on holiday, after all.

For four nights, we had a cabin in the mountains; with a wood-burning fireplace and golden-hued trees; animal heads adorning living room walls and the comfiest beds imaginable. The nights were cold in that perfect autumn way. 

We made simple things for dinner, like pasta; boiled potatoes dolloped with sour cream; pizzas made from pita bread. We drank golden microbrews with hints of apricot or raspberry. We drank lots of coffee, too, hot and black from the stovetop espresso maker we travel with.

It was awesome.

And you probably don't need a recipe for pita pizzas ... I just wanted to share the idea with you. Because pitas are great for lunches on the go, but also make fab pizza bases for all those things you have left at the end of a trip. 

So what do you need? A hot oven - set to 180C (360F) or so; 1-2 small pitas per person; tomato sauce and/or leftover red pepper soup and/or olive oil; thinly sliced veggies and/or lunchmeats; thin slices or shreds of cheese {I used pecorino}. Bake till the base is crispy and the cheese is browned and melty. Remove from the oven and eat as soon as they're cool enough.

{NOTE: Do not leave pizzas unattended in the company of your husband.}

And now, we're back in civilisation again. Back in the big smoke. And there's no fire tonight to make our cheeks warm and glowy ... but there's a comfy couch and great friends and a stack of magazines to get through.

Happy weekend, friends.
Amanda xx

HIGHLIGHTS :: Tonto Natural Bridge State Park | Mogollon Rim | fall colours | pine trees | wood-burning fires | dusty thrift stores | squirrels | getting lost on winding forestry roads | Kinfolk

Friday, October 19, 2012

Custard Pops {From Scratch}

Vanilla-studded custard or pudding or whatever you want to call it - is one of my favourite foods ever. I was ever so obsessed when I was pregnant, and even now I'm not one to pass up some cold creme anglaise, straight from the carton fridge.

But I don't like the added colours and stabilisers and thickeners in the store-bought stuff. Or the lumpiness that eventuates when I try to make custard from scratch. Or the fact that most custard recipes rely on cream {because I almost never have any in the fridge when I desire custard}. 

So I was pretty happy to find a super-easy recipe for milk-based vanilla custard from the BBC.

At the moment, I'm traveling, writing this from a hotel room in Tempe, Arizona, while my daughter devours Babybel cheese and baby carrots on the couch. We've had coffee and swimming and are totally going here later for happy hour and bruschetta. {I'll let you know how it is!}. But I love these custard pops, and brought the photos along with me because I think you'll love them, too.

And please forgive the slightly-pornographic popsicle molds. That's what you get for going with stainless steel over plastic, and I don't know about you but I'm happy to have phallus-shaped popsicles if they're BPA-free :)
Amanda xx

Vanilla Custard Pops
makes 2.5 cups' worth

This is a light-ish vanilla custard, and retains just enough of that graininess that I can never seem to escape with the homemade variety. BUT if you freeze it in your favourite popsicle molds, you won't even notice. It'll taste amazing, and it'll have that beautiful, thick, slightly-crumbly texture that frozen custard has. Do it.

The time
30 min cooking + 2 hrs freezing

The ingredients
2 cups whole milk 
100g raw sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod*
3 large, organic egg yolks
50g cornflour {cornstarch}

*remove the seeds in step 1 below, then toss the pod into a jar of sugar, for vanilla-scented sugar; add it to your jar of homemade vanilla extract; or make it into cookies, like Heidi does.

**try to use organic when you can!

The process
1. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into a saucepan {save the pod for the ideas above}, and stir in the milk and 1/2 of the sugar. Warm over medium heat - stirring pretty regularly, if not constantly - until the mixture is gently boiling. Then remove from heat and set aside.

2. Place the 3 egg yolks into a separate bowl with the rest of the sugar and the cornstarch. Mix thoroughly.
3. Then, progressively pour 1/2 the warm milk mixture into the yolk mixture, stirring as you go.

4. Return the remaining milk to a gentle boil. Stirring quickly and continuously, add the yolk/milk mixture to the gently boiling milk and mix until it thickens to the texture of a runny custard. It should coat your spoon, but probably won't glop off of it. {And yes, I just made up the word glop. Like it?}

5. Cover and cool the custard before pouring it into popsicle molds and freezing till solid {about 2 hrs}.

The cost
$2-$3 for a hefty batch of organic vanilla custard pops. And a great excuse to buy marked-down milk!